Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra concludes with show of strength in Mumbai | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra concludes with show of strength in Mumbai

Mar 18, 2024 09:02 AM IST

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav skipped the rally in Mumbai saying he needed to be in Uttar Pradesh given the poll preparations

Top leaders of the Opposition Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) gathered at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park on Sunday to mark the conclusion of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, which began in Manipur in January. The show of strength came a day after the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the schedule for the Lok Sabha elections.

The show of strength came a day after the ECI announced the schedule for the Lok Sabha elections. (HT PHOTO)
The show of strength came a day after the ECI announced the schedule for the Lok Sabha elections. (HT PHOTO)

In his speech at the rally marking the launch of INDIA’s bloc joint poll campaign, Gandhi said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not have the courage to “change” the Constitution. He said the truth and the people of India were on his side. Other INDIA leaders also challenged the BJP at the rally even as maintaining unity within the bloc and ensuring vote transfer remains a major challenge for them.

Akhilesh Yadav INDIA rally

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav skipped the rally in Mumbai saying he needed to be in Uttar Pradesh given the poll preparations. In a letter to Rahul Gandhi, Yadav said that he could not attend the event due to the Lok Sabha nomination process. A section of the Congress has maintained the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra was ill-timed and the valuable time spent on it could have been utilised for election preparedness.

Gandhi’s loyalists have maintained it was not an electoral yatra, possibly to insulate him from the outcome of the 2024 election. “If this yatra was not electoral in nature, why did we conduct it ahead of the polls in the first place?” asked a Congress leader.

The BJP, meanwhile, remains confident of a third straight term and also smashing records. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has maintained the BJP and its allies would get 400 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha. In 1984, Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister with 414 seats soon after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

What the Opposition hopes

The Opposition is hoping for a repeat of the 2004 Lok Sabha election results. The Congress managed to defeat a formidable BJP, which contested the polls on the “India Shining” plank under the leadership of charismatic Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Many in the Congress seemed to have given up hope. But Congress chief Sonia Gandhi managed to stitch together an alliance and helped the party return to power for the next 10 years.

This time, the INDIA bloc was formed with much fanfare last year. But even before the seat-sharing talks, key ally Nitish Kumar left the bloc. In Punjab and West Bengal, INDIA allies are contesting against each other. In at least three more states, uncertainty prevails over seat negotiations. The INDIA arithmetic is still the best bet for the Congress. The party has also made youth, women, and farmer-centric electoral promises.

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