Karnataka leg of Bharat Jodo Yatra ends on a high note; boosts spirits of party, cadre in poll-bound state

Former chief of the Congress social media cell and popular actor Ramya joined the Bharat Jodo Yatra on Saturday, surprising Congress leaders.

ByAnusha Ravi Sood

Published Oct 23, 2022 | 8:15 AMUpdatedOct 23, 2022 | 8:15 AM

Bharat Jodo Yatra completes Karnataka stretch. (Supplied)

Bharat Jodo Yatra completed its Karnataka leg on Saturday, 22 October, amid unprecedented crowds and high on energy.

And giving a fillip to the already high spirits of the walkathon, actor and former Congress MP from Mandya, Ramya aka Divya Spandana, participated in the yatra, walking alongside Rahul Gandhi.

Many leaders were surprised that Ramya, who was ousted as chief of the party’s social media cell after Congress’ rout in 2019, turned up at the yatra on its final day in Karnataka.

While she has made no secret of the animosity many in the party have towards her, Spandana has nevertheless maintained that Rahul Gandhi has been supportive.

Ramya, who recently announced her comeback to the film industry, sparked speculation about a return to politics as well when she joined the Bharat Jodo Yatra on Saturday.

The walkathon led by Rahul Gandhi will now proceed to Telangana — the fifth State on its route after Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Yatra a shot in the arm for Congress

In a poll-bound Karnataka, the Bharat Jodo Yatra has been a shot in the arm for the Congress cadre, a platform to showcase the unity among its leaders and a way to directly interact with people.

Rahul Gandhi walks with ex-armed forces personnel during Bharat Jodo Yatra in Raichur on Satuday. (Supplied)

Rahul Gandhi walks with ex-armed forces personnel during the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Raichur. (Supplied)

“We have had interactions with people from all quarters of life in Karnataka and all their concerns have been noted down. We will feature their problems and solutions to them in our election manifesto for the upcoming Assembly polls,” Congress state chief DK Shivakumar told reporters.

Bharat Jodo Yatra took on a strong political colour in Karnataka, changing its tone from what was seen in Tamil Nadu and Kerala,  with leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, pitching for the party to be elected to power, using the yatra as a platform to go after the BJP government in the state.

The walkathon in Raichur over the last two days was special for the Congress given Mallikarjun Kharge’s election as AICC president.

Kharge was instrumental in ensuring special status to the Kalyana Karnataka region — which includes Raichur — under article 371J during the UPA regime, and leaders of the Congress have reiterated that fact over and over again during the yatra.

“It is unfortunate that the BJP is not implementing article 371J effectively. More than 60,000 jobs should have been created for people of Kalyana Karnataka, but the BJP government hasn’t done that. When our party comes to power next, we will ensure those jobs are created and given to you,” Rahul Gandhi said in his speech on Saturday.

Show of unity

Throughout the walkathon in Karnataka, Rahul Gandhi has ensured that the factionalism in the state unit of the party is covered up by a show of unity.

Rahul Gandhi holding DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah's hands in a show of unity at Raichur on Saturday. (Supplied)

Rahul Gandhi with DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah in a show of unity at Raichur. (Supplied)

In more than half a dozen instances during the 20-day yatra in Karnataka, Rahul Gandhi has posed, hand-in-hand, with both state chief Shivakumar and legislative party chief Siddaramaiah. The message is clear: Both leaders are equally important for the party in the upcoming Assembly elections.

The reiteration comes at a time those in the Congress as well as the BJP are sure that the internal rivalry between the two leaders to emerge as chief ministerial candidate could sabotage the party’s chances in the elections.

The yatra has, however, enthused party cadres and activated coordination between feeder grassroots organisations like the Seva Dal and the Youth Congress at the block and district levels.

The party now hopes to keep the momentum going and launch its election groundwork as well.

Congress is already on a strong wicket with its online campaigns cornering the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government in the state over allegations of corruption and scams.

With the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the party has been able to interact with people directly and activate grassroots level cadres for mobilsation, networking and outreach. The party hopes to use this to begin its door-to-door campaigns for the upcoming elections.