Bharat Jodo Yatra: The meticulous record-keeping by Team Rahul
“He was emotional when I said my name was Indiramma. He felt happy when he saw ‘Sonu’ tattooed on my right hand. Sonu is Sonia, my daughter’s name,” smiled the middle-aged woman.
Indiramma was talking about Rahul Gandhi’s visit to her house near Madhavaram, a village on the Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka border, during the Bharat Jodo Yatra on October 21. Rahul visited the house and met Lakshmamma (70) and her family. Indiramma is the daughter of Lakshmamma and runs a small eatery nearby.
Rahul, during his march, suddenly entered a small house and spoke to the family members for a while. He had ragi-ganji (millet porridge), bread-omelette, and sipped hot coffee. After spending nearly half an hour in the house, he started the march again.
Indiramma told The Federal the next day that Rahul was emotional on hearing her name, as he remembered his grandmother, Indira Gandhi. “He is a gentleman with a kind heart,” she said.
Eye on future polls
However, Rahul meeting Indiramma was no coincidence. It was a classic example of the Bharat Jodo Yatra research team’s work. Sources said the research team, led by Randip Singh Surjewala, decides who Rahul should meet, among other things. The team maintains a digital record of the names and contact details of people like Indiramma. “It may prove helpful for follow-up in future,” revealed a senior leader.
On the same day, Rahul met an old woman, ASHA workers, children, a disabled person, and so on, and the team recorded their details. Not all these meetings were planned. But the team records Rahul’s spontaneous meetings with people on the walk as well.
One of the villagers, Raju Patil, said he was just following the Bharat Jodo Yatra and tried to meet Rahul, like hundreds of others. Patil was lucky. “It came as a big surprise to meet my beloved leader,” he gushed.
Follow-up after march
A member of the research team told The Federal that local party leaders have also been asked to keep in touch with the persons and groups Rahul meets. “It will help show our commitment towards people,” he said.
A 40-year-old villager belonging to the Nayak community (scheduled tribe) told The Federal that he was pleased to see the leader interact with common people like him. “Why does this man walk miles and miles and talk about our problems? I have never seen anyone walk for our cause,” Hanuma Nayak remarked. The Nayaks are the dominant community in Gillesuguru village next to the Raichur highway.
The stretch from Mantralayam to Raichur houses communities like Nayaks, Lingayats, minorities, and backward classes, who decide their leaders mainly based on caste. Some of the constituencies in the area include Raichur Rural, Raichur, Manvi, Devadurga, Manvi, Sindhanuru, Lingasaguru, and Maski. Team Rahul has reportedly advised local leaders to follow up the impact of the Yatra in these areas and told PCC (Pradesh Congress Committee) office bearers to keep a vigil.
This writer visited a few villages in Gillesugur, Kalmala, Yergera, Deosugur, Yegnur, Sankuru, Tamlagat, and Kurubadoddi. A few KPCC office bearers from Raichur district were seen discussing the effects of the march with the villagers. Most villagers were reportedly appreciative of Rahul’s effort. It will also open a way to connect with these villagers during future elections, Congress members hope.
BJP base cannot be ignored
In all, Rahul’s march along the Raichur highway has prompted people to believe that he is doing it all for a cause, which includes speaking up against price hike, unemployment, and other evils. Raju Nayak, a carpenter from Yergera village, said he is yet to decide on whom to vote for. But he believes Rahul’s yatra is not a gimmick.
“If it were, why would he take up this difficult task of walking thousands of kilometres instead of having a rath-yatra?” he remarked.
Normally, the ST, OBCs, minorities, and Lingayats are the vote bases of the Congress and JDS. These days, the STs are moving to the BJP because of leaders like Raju Gowda (Narasimha Nayak) and Sriramulu. So, the BJP’s base cannot be ignored, but Rahul’s work might have earned some brownie points for the Congress.
Also, Rahul’s research team has kept records of the local leaders and party workers who have helped with the march. Follow-up will be done in future so that they shall not forget the Yatra when election time comes, a KPCC office bearer told The Federal.