Sprints, football and badminton too: Moments from Rahul's Bharat Jodo Yatra roll in

The 52-year-old, who walks about 20 km a day, has been accompanied at various stages by a string of visitors', including celebrities, military veterans, children and elderly Congress workers

Via Twitter
Via Twitter


The son bending to tie his mother's shoelaces, the younger politician holding the veteran's hand as they jog some distance, the leader playing football on the streets... the Kodak moments have been rolling in through the 100 days and more of the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra.

The Kanyakumari to Kashmir yatra, which started on September 7, has been the centre of much discussion as the former Congress president seeks to put his party on the path of electoral revival - and also perhaps recast his image while getting into stride.

And so there have been a succession of frames, still and video, showing Gandhi shaking off the traditional politician image to attempt to put place in public memory not the failed leader but the caring son and younger colleague, and the friendly, approachable politician with the grassroots touch.

The 52-year-old, who walks about 20 km a day, has been accompanied at various stages by a string of visitors', including celebrities, military veterans, children and elderly Congress workers.

As the yatra entered Kerala and the foot march gained momentum, videos showing Gandhi helping a little girl wear sandals and playing football on the streets with children were widely distributed.

In the Karnataka leg of the yatra, clips of Gandhi holding 75-year-old Siddararamiah's hand and making a run for it in Hiriyur much to the delight of the cheering crowd went viral. Days later, in Mandya, it was the turn of the other chief ministerial aspirant, D K Shivakumar, to sprint with Gandhi.

His mother Sonia Gandhi also joined the yatra in Mandya and images of the son bending down to tie her shoelaces on the road captured much attention. That his back was to the camera and this was not calibrated but spontaneous won him several plaudits on social media.

In Telangana, Rahul Gandhi was seen on the run' again, this time with children and youth and state Congress chief Revanth Reddy joining in.

Also from Telangana came the image of him playing cricket on the road with a boy during the T20 Cricket World Cup fever in the country, and also correcting the technique of a boy showing off karate skills.

In the Telangana leg of the yatra, the Congress leader helped two women who got injured while on the march as part of his procession.

In Hyderabad, he was joined by actor Pooja Bhatt, the first major film celebrity to walk with him.

Another Kodak moment during the yatra came when Rahul Gandhi unfurled the national flag in front of the Charminar monument in Hyderabad, over 32 years after his father and then Congress chief Rajiv Gandhi started the 'Sadbhavna Yatra' from the same spot.

In Maharashtra, Rahul Gandhi was seen playing badminton with girls on the road.

And then there were images of Rahul Gandhi riding a bullet motorcycle briefly in Madhya Pradesh, in a bullock cart in Rajasthan and participating in a snake boat race in Kerala.

While most times, it has been about people in general, there were some overtly political moments. Like when he blew kisses and waved as he passed a BJP office in Jhalawar in Rajasthan.

Also in Rajasthan, Rahul Gandhi was seen wrapping 88-year-old Karuna Prasad Mishra, one of the oldest yatris, in a shawl during a music concert in Jaipur to mark 100 days of the yatra.

In an age where everyone is ready to capture the moment on their mobiles, the vignettes have been several - some perhaps spontaneous and others calibrated. Each captured by his party, fellow leaders, workers, journalists and crowds and posted on social media platforms.

Elderly women embracing and blessing Rahul Gandhi, him showering love on children and several excited fans getting emotional on meeting him have been the staple. He has also been seen consoling several people breaking down in tears while narrating their problems to him.

There have been the regular tropes too - Rahul Gandhi beating the drums and grooving with tribal dancers at various points in his over 2,800 km journey so far.

The former Congress chief has come under attack often for some of these images, particularly those embracing people or holding hands with them. But he seems to unfazed as he marches on.

The yatra, which began in Tamil Nadu, has traversed eight states -- Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and now, Rajasthan. It completed 100 days on Friday.

It will enter Delhi on December 24, and after a break of about eight days, move on to Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and finally, Jammu and Kashmir.

Among those who have participated are film and TV celebrities such as Pooja Bhatt, Riya Sen, Sushant Singh, Swara Bhasker and Amol Palekar.

Besides tinsel town celebrities, writers, military veterans, including former Navy chief admiral L Ramdas, Opposition leaders such as Shiv Sena's Aaditya Thackeray and the NCP's Supriya Sule, and former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, have also joined the march at various points.

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