Congress leader Rahul Gandhi interacts with supporters after the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra entered West Bengal through Cooch Behar. (Image: PTI/File)
Many INDIA allies like the TMC and JD(U) were against the timing of the yatra as seat-sharing talks were going nowhere. Also, within the Congress, some felt the focus should be on the Lok Sabha polls
The mood was upbeat at the Congress headquarters on Saturday (January 27) as the party launched yet another crowdfunding campaign. This, even as there was writing on the wall that the alliance was breaking in Bihar. By the time Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra entered West Bengal and he landed in Jalpaiguri, Nitish Kumar was gone.
The yatra has got off to a bad start from the beginning. Just a day before it was to begin, Rahul’s close aide Milind Deora quit the Congress raising questions over the party and its leadership.
It got worse in the days to come.
Just before Rahul entered Bengal, where he was hopeful that the TMC will join the yatra to show the opposition’s might, chief minister Mamata Banerjee suddenly called off seat-sharing talks. She made it clear that her party will fight on all 42 Lok Sabha seats.
Not that the Congress made it any easier. West Bengal unit president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s personal attacks on Mamata and senior TMC leader Derek O’Brien have soured ties to an extent that going back seems impossible.
Worse was to follow. Just two days before Rahul was to reach Bihar and hold a Mahagathbandhan rally in Purnia district on January 30, the alliance in the state broke up as Nitish joined hands with the BJP yet again.
Now, there is a sense of wariness in the Congress as to what will happen next. The yatra will go to Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand after Bihar. While Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has announced there were seat-sharing talks with the Congress on 11 seats, it looks like the grand old party wants more that could lead to a collapse.
Many INDIA allies like the TMC and JD(U) were against the timing of the yatra as seat-sharing talks were going nowhere. Also, within the Congress, some felt the focus should be on the Lok Sabha polls instead of the yatra.
Senior leader Jairam Ramesh, however, said: “The yatra will move and it will not be overshadowed by these developments.”
The Bharat Jodo Yatra before this had managed traction as it was also able to get many allies like the DMK and NCP to join. It also did much to improve Rahul’s image but this time around, the yatra has got off to a jerky start mired in numerous contradictions.
While it’s not fair to only blame the yatra but the way it is going, it is looking like the INDIA bloc is slowly coming apart at the seams. The Congress had hoped to send a message of unity with allies walking along as the yatra entered key states. The party had taken particular care to include those states where it is in alliance.
But, it looks like it is not meant to be, at least for now. It is a yatra, which for now seems to be on a road to nowhere.