About a year will be left for the state Assembly elections after the Bharat Jodo Yatra passes through Madhya Pradesh in the last week of November. The state Congress leadership therefore is all set to use the opportunity to launch its poll campaign.
Though the Bharat Jodo Yatra would cover just seven districts (around 66 assembly seats), the state unit of the party has planned to make the presence of this Yatra felt in all the 230 Assembly seats.
The party has decided to launch as many as 17 supportive or sub-yatras from different parts of the state, that will merge with the Bharat Jodo Yatra at one point – Burhanpur.
These 17 supportive yatras will cover a total of 6,440 km in 35 days. Yatras from each district and block will proceed keeping in mind that all 17 yatras reach Burhanpur at the same time to merge with the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
The yatras will proceed from one to another district, and the leading yatra will carry the ‘Constitution of India’, which will be handed over to the person leading the yatra in another district. They will also carry soil from each village on the route and also water from each small and big river on the way.
According to senior Congress leaders in Madhya Pradesh, the strategy of these sub-yatras has been made in a way that it can make a huge impact in the upcoming assembly elections in November-December 2023.
A senior Congress leader said that Rahul Gandhi had addressed two campaign rallies ahead of the 2018 assembly elections, while the Bharat Jodo Yatra will cover more than 60 assembly seats, during which he will interact with the people.
Congress leaders said the main objective of the Bharat Jodo Yatra is to mobilise the people of all segments, castes, religions to fight to protect the decades old democratic values, for which people have sacrificed their lives.
“The way people are supporting the Bharat Jodo Yatra, indicates that people are fed up with the BJP rule. In Madhya Pradesh, people had given the mandate to the Congress because they are fed up with fake promises of the BJP government.
“If the BJP hatched a conspiracy against the Congress government in 2020 to gain power again, it was disrespect of public mandate. People will give a reply in the 2023 elections,” said Chandraprabhash Shekhar, a former minister and one of the key functionaries in the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee.
Another reason why the Congress unit in Madhya Pradesh claimed that the Bharat Jodo Yatra will make a huge impact in the assembly elections in the state, as Shekhar explained, was that a campaign like “Ghar Ghar Chalo” had energised the party’s cadre at the lower level, it gave positive results in the municipal elections. Also, making this yatra a mass movement has become the sole aim of each Congress worker, Shekhar added.
The Congress claimed the results of the municipal elections were a semi-final and people have given a solid reply to the BJP, especially those feeling betrayed by the party. The Congress won five mayoral seats including Gwalior and Morena, while two mayoral candidates lost the elections with a margin of less than 500 votes. The ruling BJP, which had all 18 mayoral posts, was restricted to just nine municipal corporations.
“The party was already energised under former chief minister Kamal Nath’s leadership and the results of two elections (assembly polls in 2018 and urban body elections in 2022) are a clear example. But, when it become a mass movement in the presence of the party’s top leadership, it works as an energy booster for the party’s cadre especially at the lower level,” said Jitendra Mishra, a senior Congress spokesperson in Madhya Pradesh.
However, the BJP leaders in the state countered the Congress’ claims, alleging that the Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra has become a platform for those who often speak against the country and raise Pakistan slogans at public rallies. “I don’t think Bharat Jodo Yatra will have any impact in the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections, because they have seen Rahul Gandhi’s leadership in the past also. They are making changes in their plan every day, which indicates that they are still confused,” said a senior functionary in the Madhya Pradesh BJP.