Rahul Gandhi’s kisan yatra: it has electrified the party but what about the UP voter?

Rahul tried to strike the right chords - visiting houses of farmers, sipping tea and having snacks with 'commoners' at road side shops and visiting temples, mosques and dargahs.

Written by Manoj C G | Updated: October 7, 2016 12:08 pm
rahul gandhi, rahul gandhi kisan yatra, kisan yatra, rahul gandhi yatra, Rahul gandhi Meerut, Kisan yatra ends, UP assembly elections 2017, UP polls, Uttar pradesh, gandhi, uttar pradesh, rahul gandhi uttar pradesh, uttar pradesh gandhi, uttar pradesh polls, up polls, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Sheila dixit, india news Rahul Gandhi has shown a stomach to fight and brought a semblance of unity in the faction-ridden and caste-riven UP unit of the party. (PTI photo)

He logged about 3,500 kilometres and traversed 48 districts and 141 assembly segments in 26 days. As Rahul Gandhi winds up his ‘kisan yatra ín what was once a Congress citadel, Uttar Pradesh, his first such yatra after the humiliating 2014 Lok Sabha defeat, both his campaign managers and party chieftains are busy calculating and analysing what he and the party have achieved.

WATCH VIDEO: Rahul Gandhi Hits Out At PM Modi, Says He Is Doing ‘Dalali’ Of Their Sacrifices 

Has his voyage to UP altered the political narrative in the heartland state, where the Congress has been out of power since the advent of ‘mandal and kamandal’ politics? Has he managed to shed the perception that his style of politics is essentially ‘shoot and scoot’ and that he has neither the temperament nor the patience for lengthy exposures? Or has he succeeded in projecting the Congress as a serious contender in the UP sweepstakes?

Perhaps even more critically with elections around the corner, has he entered the mind space of the average UP voter? And will the Congress get the first move advantage? Election strategist Prashant Kishor believes in early bird advantage in politics.

The yatra, in fact, was not just to win the hearts and minds of the people of Uttar Pradesh but to change the political fortunes of the Congress altogether. And to establish Rahul as the rightful heir of Sonia Gandhi who had held a series of similar road shows and brought the Congress to power, dislodging the A B Vajpayee government in 2004.

It may be too early to arrive at a conclusion or indulge in a prediction given the fickle nature of Indian voters and the fact the election dates are still months away and the other parties are yet to roll out their campaign. People’s preferences crystallize closer to elections and new issues emerge.

Firstly, a piece of bad luck for Rahul: the second half of the yatra, at least in the media space, was overshadowed by the terror attack in Uri and its aftermath.

So, the analysis in his party vary. The old guard in the grand old party remain uncertain and diffident, his campaign managers confident and optimistic seeing the impressive turnouts at his meetings and the younger lot in the Congress see a glimmer of hope. Everyone is cautious and, of course, but optimistic that the Nehru-Gandhi scion will be able to turn the tide. However, cutting across age, seniority, caste and camps, all leaders feel that “party main current aa gaya.”

So, the party is charged up. It is to be seen whether the average voter will feel the same towards the Congress, ousted from power in the state 27 years ago. At the same time, it is a fact that his road shows drew large crowds. Those close to him never tire of arguing that the kisan mangpatras – demand letters for loan waiver – that the party is asking farmers to fill up elicited a massive response. Party leaders said around 75 lakh forms have already been collected.

Rahul tried to strike the right chords – visiting houses of farmers, sipping tea and having snacks with ‘commoners’ at road side shops and visiting temples, mosques and dargahs. He visited 14 temples, three mosques, six dargahs, three gurdwaras and one church, indulging in religion-laced politics to woo voters.

Personally, Rahul Gandhi has shown a stomach to fight and brought a semblance of unity in the faction-ridden and caste-riven UP unit of the party. And he exhibited a crucial leadership skill of leading from the front.

Congressmen have always given him credit for the victories and shielded him from defeats. Although the party has announced Sheila Dikshit as the chief ministerial face, Rahul, for once, has chosen to lead from the front, knowing well that it is a gamble.

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  1. C
    Oct 6, 2016 at 2:08 pm
    He will win.. and Bhakt will bark
    1. C
      Oct 6, 2016 at 5:52 pm
      Does this ia know that nobody listens him
      1. D
        Dev Verma
        Oct 6, 2016 at 1:35 pm
        Welcome back rahul from great holidays in UP on Khaat's but beta jay public hey sub jaanti hein. Trust me you are good for nothing,relax you have made tons of money,leave politics and enjoy the life. Get married soon....or like get well soon.
        1. G
          Gaurav Kumar
          Oct 6, 2016 at 1:06 pm
          Congress won't win. Pappu don't even know that he is running for state election not parliament election. Both BJP and congress are out of power in UP since long back. why is he targeting BJP and Modi in every rally. Is BJP in power in UP??lt;br/gt;He should be attacking the two big political parties SP and BSP in UP if congress wants to win in UP. They are only helping them by criticizing BJP only.
          1. N
            Oct 6, 2016 at 2:24 pm
            so confident...you upvote yourself...
            1. J
              Oct 6, 2016 at 2:16 pm
              Use that advice for yourself and get lost.
              1. J
                Oct 6, 2016 at 2:24 pm
                bjp got maximum number of seats in parliament election and that was the latest election in UP. So targetting modi and bjp was the right thing to do. In a four cornered election, Congress need between 25 - 30 percent votes to win the election. If Congress works hard like this till the election, there will be a Kejriwal effect like in Delhi. All of India know that modi is a lier and he only care for his Gujju bisiness friends.
                1. M
                  M Vyas
                  Oct 6, 2016 at 2:40 pm
                  His party after RAGA's Yatra will bring less votes compared to earlier time...People still consider him Papu..
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