India

Due to Yatra, playing against the BJP on a field prepared by the Congress:  Jairam Ramesh

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh stated on Sunday that the Bharat Jodo Yatra has ensured that the Congress now controls the national political narrative and that the BJP must now play on field prepared by his party.
In an interview with PTI commemorating the completion of 100 days of the yatra, Ramesh stated that Rahul Gandhi is attempting to strengthen the ideological foundation of the Congress and is collaborating with the party’s elected president, Mallikarjun Kharge (together).
Read also |100 days of Bharat Jodo Yatra: Controversies, Rahul’s philosophical musings, and great deal of walking
Ramesh responded, “I would love to participate in yatra from Porbandar (Gujarat) to Parshuram Kund (Arunachal Pradesh), but whether we can do it next year and how we can do it next year must be discussed and debated in appropriate party forums.” 
Through the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Gandhi has given the political discourse new direction, and the Congress has set the narrative for the last 100 days, according to the Congress general secretary in charge of communications.
“The Congress has been praised, criticised, praised, and maligned. 
We were always reacting to what the BJP was saying or doing, but through the Bharat Jodo Yatra, believe we have been able to set the terms of debate and the narrative in the political discourse,” Ramesh explained.
Also see |The effects of the Bharat Jodo Yatra are already being felt: 
Cong’s jab at the PM’s tour of four southern states.
He stated that the yatra had “electrifying internal effect” on the organisation as well as onthe Indian political world at large.
Ramesh asserted that because of the yatra, the BJP is “on the defensive, agitated, and anxious.”
“I believe that we have changed the terms of the debate. 
The narrative is currently on our pitch. 
“We are playing cricket against the BJP on pitch that we have prepared; they are not playing cricket against us on pitch that they have prepared,” he explained.

Asked if Rahul Gandhi was now the conscience-keeper of the party, Ramesh said that’s a strong word and one does not emerge as a conscience keeper through just one yatra.

“He (Gandhi) is raising issues which should be of deep concern to the Indian citizens. He is certainly seen as the ideological compass for the Congress party. We have a full-time elected Congress president and in Rahul Gandhi we have somebody who is trying to sharpen the ideological basis of the Congress,” he said.

Also Read |Rahul’s Bharat Jodo Yatra pushes Pappu behind, strikes a chord — but hard work awaits off-camera.

“He and Kharge ji are working as a jugalbandi. To that extent he (Gandhi) has certainly succeeded in energising the party organisation, Congress workers, supporters and giving them a new hope that the Congress party will re-establish itself as the pre-eminent political force in the country,” he said.

Asked if the yatra would have an electoral impact in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka that go to polls next year, Ramesh reiterated that it is not an electoral yatra but an ideological one.

“It is a yatra to capture the battlefield of ideas, battlefield of ideologies. Yes we are not an NGO, we are not a ‘sanyasi’ battalion, we are a political party and we exist to fight elections and fight elections to win but whether this Bharat Jodo yatra will have a positive electoral impact, it depends entirely on the Congress organisation,” he said.

“If we have unity, if we have discipline, if we have a sense of collective purpose, then I think we will be able to take forward the message of the Bharat jodo Yatra and gain electoral success,” he added.

The yatra was not started to win Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha, but to strengthen the ideological moorings of the Congress, re-establish the connect with the people, reinforce a sense of collective purpose to combat the three big challenges of economic inequality, increasing social polarisation and established political authoritarianism.

Asked about the tussle between Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his bete noire Sachin Pilot, Ramesh reiterated Gandhi’s earlier statement that both leaders are assets for the party.

“Whatever way forward is found by the Congress party and the high command, the principle is very clear, the organisation is supreme. Individuals come and individuals go but it is the organisational interests that are paramount,” he said.

“I would stress on the supremacy of organisational interest and I am sure that is what is on the minds of the Congress president and others who are working to find a solution,” he said.

Ramesh also contended that because of the Bharat Jodo Yatra Gandhi has been able to re-establish in the public eye who he really is – caring, compassionate and sensitive.

“I have said earlier and I would like to repeat this is not a new Rahul Gandhi, this is the real Rahul Gandhi which the country is seeing through the Bharat Jodo Yatra,” he said.

Ramesh also slammed those who criticise the Congress unnecessarily, saying the Congress bashing is a favourite pastime of not only the right-wing but also of the liberal commentariat.

“I think that needs to stop. To a large extent because of the Bharat Jodo Yatra this Congress bashing has moderated in tone. I don’t think it has vanished but it has moderated in tone,” he said.

Ramesh said the large liberal constituency in our country must recognise the only way to defeat the “polarising and poisonous” agenda of the RSS-BJP is by strengthening and reinvigorating the Congress party, its values and its ideology.

The yatra, which was launched on September 7 in Kanyakumari, has completed 102 days and traversed eight states — Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and now, Rajasthan.

 

 

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