AA Edit | Rahul grew in stature, Congress in confidence

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

Now, the party and leader can only hope the invisible hand of god guides them further to their ultimate goals.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with JKNC vice president Omar Abdullah during the closing ceremony of Bharat Jodo Yatra, at Sher-i-Kashmir cricket stadium in Srinagar. (PTI Photo)

I have killed Rahul Gandhi, he does not exist anymore, said Rahul Gandhi, with nonchalance, at a press conference towards the ending stages of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. After the conclusion of the marathon walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, the only thing dead is the carefully created, constantly reiterated and emphasised with abnormally high repetition alter ego called “Pappu”. Along with it died the image of a non-serious politician, one who cannot focus on politics for long without a break, or someone who does not have the aptitude or depth of understanding of issues for him to be taken seriously.

Rahul Gandhi, during the walk across the nation, reached out to people with a message that could not have been made simpler — while the Congress, and he, believes in love, and uniting people across the spectrum of diversity, with an inclusive mindset, his rivals, ideologically, stand for the opposite of love and unity. His battle was not just political, but deeper, and he would fight till the end all forms of divisive politics and stand for an embracing vision of India.

Within days, the social media saw the shrinking, and eventually, the death of Pappu barbs. The stature of spokespersons the BJP deployed on prime time TV to respond to the statements of Rahul Gandhi grew, whose strategy of repetition of his message in the simplest of language and idiom worked. Better, it resonated.

Did the BJY of Rahul Gandhi work? Is it making an impact? Will it help the Congress win elections, people across the political spectrum began to ask. Even the criticism against the Congress and its top leader took a more serious tone and anxious undertone.

Changes it has brought in the country for sure, but it is not visible to everyone. The first beneficiary of the Rahul Gandhi-led yatra was not the Congress, though it won in Himachal Pradesh, in a direct face-off with its saffron rival, but Bollywood. When Rahul Gandhi was about to walk, Aamir Khan’s movie was launched, which fell victim to the call for a boycott; a call managed with dog whistling, questioning the identity, loyalty and politics of the lead actor.

As Rahul Gandhi began looking a lot more like Aamir Khan in the movie Lal Singh Chaddha, with a haphazardly free flowing beard, chromatically more salt than pepper, the mood in the country changed enough for Shah Rukh Khan, whose Pathan was released towards the end of the yatra. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself personally told his leaders to stay off irrelevant and needless controversies, and the boycott call against the movie failed.

Even as several key Opposition leaders are still evaluating the prospects of joining the Congress in an alliance against the Modi-led BJP government for the next general elections, it was again Mr Modi who began to make his push for his party's biggest ever reach out to Pasmanda Muslims, and Christians more important and urgent. The message of the BJP to itself is clear: jodo more people to its mission.

Rahul Gandhi has, to conclude with an unimpeachable truth, risen in stature, and taken his party to a higher level of confidence. Now, the party and leader can only hope the invisible hand of god guides them further to their ultimate goals.