Bharat Jodo Yatra draws old associates of Arvind Kejriwal

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, November 18: Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi is walking with the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ for over two months now. He has been drawing party’s state leaders, alliance partners and stars. Having begun Yatra from Kerala with a clean-shaven appearance, Gandhi is now sporting a thick harvest of beard. He kicks football sometimes, and also throws the cricket balls to young batsmen who join him in the Yatra.

But two key figures joined him during the course of Yatra who have been instrumental in the formation of the Anna Hazare campaign in 2013 in Delhi. Prashant Bhushan and Medha Patkar walked along with Rahul Gandhi. Both were the key figures in the Anna Hazare campaign. They were also close associates of Arvind Kejriwal, who had built a workers’ base with his India Against Action. Later, Kejriwal founded the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) along with his associates such as Kumar Vishwash, Prashant Bhushan and others.

Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi Tushar Gandhi also joined the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. The star power also came along, as actors Ria Sen, Pooja Bhatt and others joined the Congress leaders. The ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ is slated to enter Madhya Pradesh after completing the Maharashtra leg.

The Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Lok Sabha MP …have also joined the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on Damodar Savarkar invited sharp reactions from the Shiv Sena, but both the alliance partners agreed to disagrees, as stated by Congress communication department chief Jairam Ramesh. While Congress regularly keeps reminding that Savarkar had gained concession from the British, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological mentor the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) have maintained that the letter referred to was written on the suggestion by Mahatma Gandhi.

The course of the over two months of ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ suggests that Congress is seeking to sharpen its left of the centre politics, while also being flexible for a last minute accommodation if the politics of the day demands. Prashant .. and Medha Patkar have been known Left ideology sympathisers, and they would want Congress to take the space which has been abandoned by the mainstream political parties.

The Anna Hazare campaign was abandoned by its lead actors who took the political plunge but several of the participants seem eager to join and influence Congress to embrace the ideas for which they had come together at the Jantar Mantra Road and the Ramlila Ground. It may also be recalled that the Anna Hazare platform was an anti-Congress stage where the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government was accused of rampant corruption.

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