Congress general secretary in-charge of communications Jairam Ramesh has categorically said that the Bharat Jodo Yatra has nothing whatsoever to do with elections.
Talking to media persons on Saturday, he said, “It just so happens that these three state elections are coming now.”
He was speaking in Shillong after the launch of the party’s election manifesto for Meghalaya which goes to polls on February 27 along with Nagaland. Tripura faces election on February 16. The counting of votes for all the three elections would be undertaken on March 2. These three states are the first to go to polls after BJY concluded on January 30.
Asked whether the mandate in these three states would be a true reflection of Bharat Jodo Yatra’s success, Ramesh said the foot march was not related to recently-held elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat also.
The Rajya Sabha MP said, “I did not believe that the Bharat Jodo Yatra was responsible for our victory in Himachal Pradesh. Much less do I believe that Bharat Jodo Yatra was responsible for our very disappointing performance in Gujarat. Because from Day 1, we have been saying that the Bharat Jodo Yatra is an ideological yatra. It is not an electoral yatra. It is a political yatra but not related to elections. That is why we started the ‘Haath se Haath Jodo’ campaign after the Bharat Jodo Yatra.”
Ramesh explained that the Bharat Jodo Yatra was to deal with the ideology of the Congress and to deal and combat with the ideology of the BJP and the RSS. “The three ideologies that we are opposing are economic inequality, social polarisation and political dictatorship,” he said.
The head of the Congress’s media declared that he would not relate the results – favourable or otherwise – to the 4,000-odd km yatra from Kanyakumari to Srinagar which was led by Rahul Gandhi.
“So, if we do well, I am not going to take any credit for Bharat Jodo Yatra, let me assure you. If we do badly, I am sure all of you will say that Bharat Jodo Yatra ka kya faayda? Is se koi faayda nahin hua. (What was the use of Bharat Jodo Yatra. It was no use.) That will also be a wrong view. The Bharat Jodo Yatra’s results have to be seen over a five-year, 10-year perspective. It is a long-term ideological battle. That is why we are doing the Bharat Jodo Yatra. It is not an event,” he said.
Claiming that the Bharat Jodo Yatra was “very successful”, Ramesh revealed the party’s plan for a west to east march. “We are now thinking of a west to east yatra, details of which are still being worked out. This was a south to north yatra. A similar west to east yatra is being contemplated, because we believe that India’s greatest threat comes from the policies of the prime minister from the BJP or the RSS which divides Indian society and which does not unite the Indian society,” he said.
Differing opinion about BJY and Himachal poll result
However, it seems there is a difference of opinion regarding Bharat Jodo Yatra and its relation with elections. The results of Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat were declared on December 8. While the Congress defeated the BJP in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP registered a historic win in Gujarat.
What Ramesh said about the yatra’s relation with Himachal Pradesh election result was in contrast to the views of Rajya Sabha Congress MP in-charge of election in the hilly state Rajeev Shukla. The latter had claimed that the party registered victory in the state because of the yatra.
The yatra passed through Himachal Pradesh much after the results were announced. It did not go to Gujarat.
Congress manifesto for Meghalaya
Declaring the manifesto, Ramesh said it has 14 big promises. “Every year we will present a report to the people of Meghalaya, giving a report card of the status of implementation of each of the promises that we have made.”
The party has made five big commitments which include empowering women by giving Rs 3,000 to every BPL single mother as there are 41 per cent women who live singly; job to every household; power cut-free Meghalaya and corruption-free Meghalaya.
The Rajya Sabha MP said the upcoming Meghalaya election is a watershed for the party. “The Congress party is fighting four clouds – the cloud of corruption, the cloud of unemployment, the cloud of the destruction of Meghalaya’s identity and finally the cloud of an unholy alliance between BJP, NPP, UDP and TMC. They all are claiming to fight independently. But mark my words – at the first opportunity they will jump into bed together,” he alleged.
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