By Arun Lakshman
Chennai, Feb 5 (IANS): The successful completion of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra covering 4,080 km and traversing the country on foot has energised the Congress at the grassroots level.
Rahul Gandhi, who was mocked by the ruling party as ‘Pappu' and a person with unpredictable moods who was not serious about politics, tried to reinvent himself by walking through the country and meeting people, braving the adverse weather and terrain.
While Rahul has completed the journey successfully, one person who has rejoiced most in the success of the yatra is Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin who inaugurated the Yatra at the southern tip of the country in Kanyakumari on September 7, 2022, by handing over the national flag to Gandhi.
Though the Yatra passed through Tamil Nadu for only four days, it was welcomed in an overwhelming manner by the DMK and its allies of the Secular Progressive Alliance (SPA) of which the Congress is also a part.
Stalin has exhorted party cadres to win all the 40 seats from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry with 39 from Tamil Nadu and one from Puducherry in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The party feels that the success of the Bharat Jodo Yatra which has brought an alternate narrative across the country will reverberate in Tamil Nadu also.
The Congress has eight Lok Sabha MPs from Tamil Nadu and other than Kerala and Karnataka, the party is expecting a major success in Tamil Nadu. Stalin and his DMK are a major support base for the party.
While Stalin is using the narrative of Rahul Gandhi's Yatra as a rallying point for the party and the alliance in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress is riding piggyback on the cadre strength of the DMK in Tamil Nadu, thus focusing on each other's strengths to gain momentum in the state.
The good governance and people friendly programmes of the state government led by Stalin has helped the DMK and the Secular Progressive Alliance in the state but Gandhi's Yatra has given the DMK a semblance of respect even at the national level. Wherever the Yatra reached, Stalin's name will echo as he was the one who inaugurated the Yatra.
S. Duraimurugan, senior leader of the DMK and minister for water works, told IANS: "The successful completion of Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra is a prestigious moment for the DMK as it was our leader, M.K. Stalin who inaugurated the Yatra at Kanyakumari. The Congress leader has walked on foot and faced adverse weather and uneven terrain to successfully complete the Yatra and has changed the narrative in the country."
Another interesting turn was Tamil superstar and founder president of Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), Kamal Haasan joining the Yatra in Delhi.
Kamal Haasan and his MNM have been contesting the elections on their own without any alliance. DMK circles are now abuzz that Kamal would soon be joining the DMK front and the Yatra has been the reason for this new found bonhomie between the actor and the ruling party.
The DMK will be showcasing the success of the Yatra across Tamil Nadu and will portray this as the success of a single man against all odds. With the BJP not a big force in the state and the opposition AIADMK in disarray, the DMK led front seems to be on its way to victory in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress also can rejoice in the fact that these seats will add to the opposition kitty to the disadvantage of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre.