Shoaib Daniyal’s latest India Fix newsletter from Scroll, comes with the subject-line that begins with ‘Pappu to Popular’. This is about the resurrection, if you will, or the rejuvenation of, Rahul Gandhi, as the leader of the Congress.
Daniyal believes that “This is exactly what the Bharat Jodo Yatra aims to achieve.”
He reminds us that Rahul Gandhi has a perception problem, made obvious by his “poor skills when speaking to the media.”
Daniyal does concede that “Gandhi’s perception problem also has to do with the BJP’s massive social media reach as well as a large ecosystem of friendly television channels.”
Yogendra Yadav, whose Swaraj India, is participating in the yatra, believes the effective of it is that, “Even if someone opposes you, they will at least invite you in for dinner if you are on a padyatra.” While conceding the reliance on the innate hospitality of Indians, it is also necessary to note that Yadav’s joining the yatra is also a recognition of the importance and urgency to unite all progressive forces against this upsurge of the right wing.
Varghese K. George, senior editor at The Hindu, wrote about an incident during the 2012 UP Assembly elections, about a gracious Rahul Gandhi: “my pen slipped out of my hand and fell, breaking into several pieces. Before I realised what was happening, Mr. Gandhi had collected the pieces, assembled them back and returned it to me.” While Varghese dwells on the anecdotal, the political implications and not just the personality of Rahul Gandhi is of equal if not of greater significance here.
Laiqh Khan, The Hindu’s journalist in Mysuru, has a piece headlined, “Will Bharat Jodo Yatra help transform Rahul Gandhi’s image?”
The fact that Baba Ramdev has changed his tune also has not gone unnoticed by people on social media. Other “friends” of the current dispensation and fellow-travellers in the media have commenced their manoeuvres to position themselves as objective observers.
The yatra has muddied the perception game, of course. The dynamic of how Rahul Gandhi often calls bystanders for tête-à-tête, even as he gets distracted waving at crowds furiously waving at him on either side of the road, makes for interesting viewing, but also must send a little chill down the spine of those who have invested a lot in discrediting him. It must worry them that a lot more investment will now have to be made all over again.
Even Godi media is eager to know if “Can Bharat Jodo Yatra Resurrect Rahul Gandhi?” in their inimitable style of unvarnished and futile cacophony.
Rahul Gandhi has described his experience in very personal terms. He does understand his place in the “political class” he refers to. He must also know by first-hand experience the implications of making the political class nervous about his intentions. But he has been steadfast.
Rahul Gandhi, in many of his utterances, has derisively described the ruling dispensation as “Hum Do, Aur Humare Do”. That latter bit referring to the two capitalists who have made merry since 2014. This has made India Inc wary of Gandhi. There is also the rumuour that he has advisors who are left leaning.
He has taken this opportunity to allay those fears. Will it be heard? Will it suffice? We will be able to gauge that in the manner in which mainstream, corporate media will behave with India’s opposition in general, but specifically with Rahul Gandhi.
He has responded to that concern during the yatra.