National

How Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra Resonated With The Youth Of UP

Congress media coordinator Arun Tripathi, who travels with Gandhi during his yatra, said Rahul Gandhi’s speeches during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra have 'pinched people that Rahul Gandhi actually cares about us.'

Advertisement

Getty%20Images
India's Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi (C) waves to his supporters Photo: Getty Images
info_icon

The Uttar Pradesh leg of the Congress party's Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra has been fraught with challenges. From Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav's decision to boycott the yatra until seat-sharing is settled, to BJP workers staging a symbolic protest by washing the spot where Rahul Gandhi stood in Varanasi, the hurdles have been many. However, despite these challenges, Congress workers say the impact of the yatra in the state has been monumental in reshaping people’s perception of Rahul Gandhi.

Congress media coordinator Arun Tripathi who travels with Gandhi during his yatra, said Rahul Gandhi’s speeches during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra have “pinched people that Rahul Gandhi actually cares about us.”

Advertisement

“The crowd in this yatra is the one that the government doesn't care about. People who are unemployed, people who haven’t been able to repay loans and are under debt, there are people who have been applying for jobs for a long time but have not been able to secure a job, that’s the type of crowd. There is quite a bit of a youth crowd,” Arun Tripathi said.

The Congress worker says that as the first phase of the Bharat Jodo Yatra didn’t come to UP and people had not been able to witness it, they did not believe, somewhere in the back of their minds, that Mr Gandhi was actually walking on foot and living in containers.

Advertisement

“So when they are seeing him now they are saying 'oh look Rahul is walking with us, living in containers and he is working so hard for all of us, if he wants he can also live in a big mansion'. These things touch people.”

The Indian National Congress had on February 12 announced that it was reducing the duration of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Uttar Pradesh in view of the state board examinations for Classes 10 and 12. The Yatra was to skip most of Western UP. However Tripathi says there has been some change in the plan and the yatra will now cover some part of Western UP including Moradabad, Unnao and Agra as well before moving on to Rajasthan.

Lucknow University student Nazia Bano will be in attendance as the yatra reaches the state capital on Tuesday. 

“Modi ji and Yogi ji made quite a lot of promises on employment but we all know there are no jobs. I’m in my final year and I don't know what I will do after I graduate. I don't see any employment options. I’m going because Rahul Gandhi ji addresses the current issues of the youth,” she said.

Bano, who belongs to the OBC category, said she has been drawn to Gandhi’s speeches as they focus on reservation and OBC rights. “As a leader, Rahul Gandhi ji, I feel, treats everyone equally and takes up current issues and speaks about them fearlessly.”

Advertisement

During his yatra, Rahul Gandhi emphasised the need for a caste census and for the 50 per cent reservation cap to be lifted to be in line with the OBC population in India, under their ‘jitni aabadi utna haq' (rights as per your population) campaign.

Some also see the former Congress president as someone who will change the system, Lucknow University student and National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) student representative Vishal Singh says.

“BJP had promised 2 crore jobs every year, that didn’t happen and now the situation is so bad that one example is the 60,000 UP constable vacancies for which 50 lakh people had applied. From twelfth pass individuals to well-learnt, well-educated Ph.d holders, applied for it. If there were really as many jobs as the government claims, would such qualified people be applying for a non-gazetted post?” Vishal Singh asked.

Advertisement

The NSUI leader refers to the National Education Policy (NEP) as the biggest challenge faced by the country’s students and says the Congress party’s claim of fixing the flaws in NEP is something that has appealed to a lot of students. “Lucknow University is the first university in the country to adopt NEP, even bigger universities like JNU and Jamia are still figuring out how to go about implementing it. But in LU it happened without a thought,” he said.

“Money is being leached off of students for one thing or the other, the number of self-finance courses are being increased. An example from my university, Lucknow University, is that students of MA Urdu, MA Sociology and MA Political Science have been asked to pay Rs 1000 as lab fees. What kind of laboratory do Urdu students attend?”

Advertisement

Singh says unfair practices are also taking place in the name of multidisciplinary students. “Let's say I'm an MA student and I have to take co-curricular as well. Now I want to take a cultural subject with MA but because of limited seats they are allotting subjects to students as per their wish. Let's say they give me Physical Education which I didn’t want and now I’m stuck with it. If I don't study the allotted subject, there’s nothing I can do. Why aren't there more seats if there are more students wanting to study a subject?” Singh asked.

The NSUI representative says he is also in support of Gandhi’s anti-capitalistic stance. He points out how Gandhi, during his speeches, has called out the government’s capitalistic approach which favours billionaires. “It is the duty of the government to look after its people and to not ask for anything in return,” he said.

Advertisement

Vishal Singh along with other members of NSUI and other student unions will be present at the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra on Wednesday. However, the appearance of SP chief Akhilesh Yadav remains unconfirmed.

On Tuesday afternoon, Akhilesh Yadav announced he would not attend the yatra as promised earlier if the seat sharing talks between Congress and SP were not finalised.

SP National Spokesperson Rajeev Rai on Tuesday evening said talks about seat sharing were on at the highest levels.

“It was expected that before the yatra came to the UP state, seat sharing would be finalised but it’s not yet finalised,” Rajeev Rai told Outlook.

Advertisement

“Congress has their own thinking and they have been asking for seats which we could not give. I think 80 per cent of the seats are sorted and another 20 per cent, if they agree today, will be finalised,” he said.

Congress media coordinator Arun Tripathi said the seat sharing had been finalised by both parties and the INDIA bloc was expected to soon make the seats public. “Although it is not official, I believe Akhilesh Yadav ji will join the yatra in Lucknow.”

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement