Bharat Jodo Yatra enthuses Congress in Rajasthan

As the gruelling Bharat Jodo Yatra exited Rajasthan, Congress rank and file are optimistic about the impact of the Yatra on the assembly election next year

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi participating in the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi participating in the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'

Prakash Bhandari

After a fortnight in Rajasthan, the Bharat Jodo Yatra entered Haryana on Wednesday. The huge turnout in Rajasthan would have pleased Congress leaders and the rank and file did set their differences aside to make the Yatra a ‘success’.

The most tangible benefit of the Yatra, they feel, is the feedback received directly from the people on the performance of the Congress government which has completed four years in office. With elections due next year, the Yatra has not only energised the party at various levels, it is also believed that Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders have now a better grasp of the situation on the ground.

The feedback, they confirm, has been mixed. In his public speeches in the state Rahul Gandhi has spoken of conversations he had with people, many of whom told him of the success of several welfare schemes. The Congress leader also lauded the initiative of the Gehlot government to extend teaching of English to government schools and poorer students.

There have also been critical feedbacks. Prof Shishupal Singh Bhadu from Jai Narayan Vyas University, Jodhpur, who joined the Yatra at Dausa, informed Rahul Gandhi of the financial crunch faced by the state universities. The Gehlot government, he said, should stop opening up new universities and instead

strengthen the existing ones. English medium schools being launched by the government also needed better teachers.

During the last fortnight the Congress leader has met entrepreneurs, teachers, daily wage earners, farmers and students among others. People apparently spoke favourably about the Chiranjeevi Yojana, which provides free medical treatment costing up to Rs 10 lakhs even in over 900 registered private hospitals. It also has an insurance component against accidents. Government hospitals already provide free medical treatment, medicines and pathological tests. The scheme also covers free cochlear implants to deal with hearing impairment besides liver and bone-marrow transplants.

A farmer from Bundi, Birdhi Chand, was among those who lauded the scheme. He had been forced to sell his land to treat three members of the family who were suffering from serious diseases. The scheme bailed him out. At Kota, several girl students belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities narrated how their lives had become easier after they received two-wheeler scooties from the state government for performing well in the Board examination.

“We offered Rahul ji a ride on our scooter, but he told us that he was on a padyatra and not on a scooter yatra. He advised us to learn how to maintain the bike” recalled Sumati Saharia. Jeevan Lal Nehra, a farmer and a dairy owner from Haryana, who had joined the BJY in Karnataka and rejoined the Yatra in Madhya Pradesh, claimed that while the Yatra received overwhelming response in other states, in terms of sheer number, the response in Rajasthan to the Yatra was much more than in Karnataka.

“I am also surprised at so many people praising the Chiranjivi Yojana and the loan waiver of farm loans worth Rs 14,000 crores,” said Nehra while recalling grievances he heard from farmers who complained of rising fuel and input costs. He echoed the claim of chief minister Ashok Gehlot that even after four years in office, there was little anti-incumbency against the Congress government. If people vote for good governance and

social welfare schemes, Nehra added, Congress in the state seemed well placed to be re-elected next year.

The chief minister who in his public speeches has been pointing to healthy growth in the state GDP and per capita income, reminded the audience that Rajasthan spent seven per cent of its GDP on healthcare, which is higher than in Gujarat. His confidence also stems from the government’s decision to restore Old Pension Scheme for government employees. The OPS was one of the poll promises that helped the party win in Himachal Pradesh. Congress would be hoping OPS will be equally instrumental in winning over voters in Rajasthan.

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