Wednesday, Nov 29, 2023

From Half-Sleeve Shirt Debate To Congress Comebacks, How Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra Played Out On Twitter

From Half-Sleeve Shirt Debate To Congress Comebacks, How Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra Played Out On Twitter

Throughout the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul Gandhi trended for his half-sleev shirt, addressing people in rain, and BJP's investigation of his warmer.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi walking in the recently-concluded Bharat Jodo Yatra
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi walking in the recently-concluded Bharat Jodo Yatra Twitter/Congress

Rahul Gandhi completed the Kanniyakumari-to-Kashmir Bharat Jodo Yatra of the Congress party on Sunday in Srinagar. 

The Bharat Jodo Yatra culminated formally in a rally at Srinagar on Monday where he addressed party workers among others. He was joined by sister and fellow Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, and a number of leaders from opposition parties including National Conference (NC), People's Democratic Party (PDP), CPI, and IUML.

With the objective of reviving the struggling Congress, the Rahul-led Bharat Jodo Yatra passed through 75 districts across 14 states and Union Territories (UTs) and covered 4,080 km. During the Yatra, Rahul addressed 12 public meetings, over 100 street-corner meetings, and 13 press conferences. He had over 275 planned walking interactions and more than 100 sitting interactions.

While Rahul mapped the country from South to North, a storm raged on Twitter around him, which at times wondered over his lack of woolens and engaged in narrative-wars on some occasions.

Here we list a few key moments of Bharat Jodo Yatra on Twitter that stood out over the months. 

Does Rahul Gandhi not feel cold?

The most fascinating subject on Twitter —and perhaps the keenest mystery for Indians online— is how Rahul Gandhi is moving around in a half-sleev shirt.

Throughout the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul did not wear a jacket or a sweater and walked in a half-sleeve shirt. That attracted amazement, appreciation, as well as mockery and theories.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at times alleged that Rahul was wearing a warmer underneath the shirt, the party was also mocked for focussing so much on his clothes when there are so many pressing issues in the world. 

Sharing a photo that allegedly showed Rahul wearing a warmer, BJP supporter Manjinder Singh Sirsa wrote, "The cat is out of the bag! The sleeveless thermal and buttoned up t-shirt exposes the fake narrative of liar Rahul Gandhi. Feeling cold in winter is normal! It was nothing but an attention seeking gimmick for fake publicity."

Other BJP leaders and supporters, such as Naveen Kr Jindal, Preeti Gandhi, Kuljeet Singh, and Shashi Kumar, also shared such posts. Compiling them, fact checker Mohammed Zubair mocked them and said "Exposed". 

Sharing Zubair's tweet, former journalist and Congress leader Supriya Shrinate called them a "desperate breed" and "desperadoes".

While the BJP sought a conspiracy in Rahul's half-sleev shirt, the Congress spun the narrative and said it's the people's affection that's keeping Rahul warm in the Bharat Jodo Yatra. 

Rahul Gandhi in rain

Rahul Gandhi addressed a gathering in Mysuru in rain in October. 

While the Congress party and its supporters admired Rahul by sharing his photo, the non-Congress Twitter users took the opportunity to mock him.

Statement taken out of context

The BJP took a brief clip of Rahul out of context to say that he told reporters that he would stop Bharat Jodo Yatra if it does not work out. 

A PTI fact check found that the BJP narrative was false as Rahul's comment was not about Bharat Jodo Yatra but his shirt.

In a clip in which Rahul is walking to a gathering, a journalist asks Rahul on a lighter note, "T-shirt hi rahegi kya? (Is it just going to be a t-shirt?)"

Amid laughter, Rahul also says on a lighter note, "Jab tak chal rahi hai, tab tak chalayengi. Nahi kaam karenge to band kar denge. (It will be there as long as it works. I will leave it when it stops working)." 

The clip was in context of conversations over his half-sleeve shirt in North Indian cold, but the BJP shared it out of context. 

Gandhi family moments

Throughout the Rahul-led Bharat Jodo Yatra, the moments that Gandhis came together were also shared widely on Twitter. 

In one clip, Rahul was tying shoe-laces of mother Sonia Gandhi, who had joined the Yatra briefly. The video was shared widely. 

There were also moments when the Gandhis and other leaders took break from walking and engaged in private banter which attracted cheers from supporters and jeers from opponents. 

On Monday in snow-clad Srinagar, the Gandhi siblings were also seen playing with snow before the Yatra culminated in a rally. The clips and photographs have also been shared on Twitter. Interestingly, Rahul is still wearing a half-sleeve shirt in rainy and snow-clad Srinagar with temperature ranging between 4 and minus 1 degree celsius.