Maharashtra gives Rahul Gandhi the title of Bharat Hriday Samrat
Narendra Modi lives in events while Rahul lives in moments, MPCC chief Nana Patole said at a huge rally held in Nanded as part of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’
Rahul Gandhi emerged from his public rally at Nanded in Maharashtra with a new title – Bharat Hriday Samrat, the king of the hearts of Indians, as speaker after speaker labelled him that and the gathered crowd endorsed the appellation.
It is an inclusive title vastly opposed to the Hindu Hriday Samrat that Narendra Modi has been attempting to be and various speakers at the Nanded rally, including those from the Nationalist Congress Party, made concerted efforts to set themselves apart from and hold themselves up as the only alternative to the divisive forces in the country.
There were both subtle and open attempts at ridiculing Modi and the BJP but never a step out of line or any abusive language.
The pièce de resistance was Gandhi's story of his visit to Kedarnath in Uttarakhand.
The nation has got to seeing high drama and helicopter arrivals at the Shiv temple in Kedarnath but Gandhi stressed on his 15 km walk to the abode of the greatest tapasvi (Shiva) in the world.
What did he ask the Lord? Nothing. Merely thanked the God for lighting his way and showing him the true path. He contrasted this with the visit of an overweight RSS leader who arrived by helicopter at the same time to ask Lord Shiva for good health for himself.
“If you had walked to Kedarnath, you would automatically have got good health,” Rahul said to himself, though nothing to the man at the time.
If that was too subtle for the people to understand, Gandhi said that was the difference between the Congress and the BJP, between Gandhiji and Savarkar – the Congress does and never makes a show, Gandhiji sacrificed for the nation while Savarkar apologised to the British for his own gratification.
Staying on the theme, Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole openly contrasted Modi and Rahul Gandhi. When Modi visits his mother, the mother is off centre and Modi is staring at the camera. When Rahul ties his mother's shoelaces, his face is towards her feet and not at the cameras, he pointed out.
"This is the difference between an event and a moment. A managed show versus poignant spontaneity," he said.
NCP Maharashtra president Jayant Patil perhaps sealed the relationship between the two parties by describing the Congress and NCP as brothers in arms who will always be together and reinforced the ‘ganga-jamuni tehseeb’ of the two parties.
It was interesting that he quoted a Marathi saying – a man who sits idle finds his fate and destiny sit idle; a man who walks has his fate walking along with him, and when he runs, destiny runs ahead of him.
"Rahul Gandhi has been not just walking but running through the padayatra. His destiny and that of the nation will now run along with us," be said.
It is also significant that the newly-elected Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge also focussed on a variation of that theme. Paraphrasing John F Kennedy, he said, "Ask not what Rahul Gandhi can do for you. Ask what you can do for yourself and the country. Rahul Gandhi is here to help you along but you must save yourselves and the country by defeating the divisive forces," he said, speaking in chaste Marathi.
The theme of the entire show was sacrifice and tapasya by leaders like Jyotiba Phule, Shahu Maharajn, BR Ambedkar, Ahilyabai Holjar and others. And ridding oneself of any fear, to not be afraid of Modi, the BJP or anybody else.
Earlier, reinforcing the unity among the allies of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi, Jayant Patil, Supriya Sule, and Jitendra Awhad – Sharad Pawar's Man Friday – joined Rahul Gandhi's inner circle and took part in the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in Nanded.
Sharad Pawar was advised by his doctors not to take on the strain of walking, having just recovered from pneumonia, and given his delicate health.
Shiv Seha (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray is slated to join the yatra tomorrow and his father, former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, will, according to reports, join up at Hingoli and walk in the yatra for a day.
Maharashtra did not let down the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ as crowds surged in huge numbers, listening in rapt attention as Gandhi exhorted them to eschew hate and spread the message of unity and harmony.
Gandhi's security personnel were facing a tough time containing the crowds, even as he addressed nukkad sabhas, tearing into the Modi government for not just unemployment and price rise but also destroying the economy through demonetisation six years ago and taking away huge projects from Maharashtra. And the need for citizens to protect their rights by saving the Constitution.
Actor Sushant Singh was the second Bollywood personality to endorse the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ after Pooja Bhatt for a similar reason – "I thought about the Congress and then the country and then decided this was not for the Congress but the country that I must join the yatra. I had to do this for that reason alone."
The yatra moves on to neighbouring Hingoli district tomorrow.