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Regional parties, anti-Congress progressives, civil society groups 'joining' Bharat Jodo

By Harshavardhan Purandare, Sandeep Pandey* 

The Congress party declared Bharat Chhodo (Quit India) movement against the British regime in 1942. The Congress party has now launched a movement Bharat Jodo (Connecting and Uniting India) against the Modi regime in 2022.
Indian people have had a journey of 80 years since Mahatma Gandhi gave that Quit India call to the British and we have to agree that we stand most divided in our modern history when Rahul Gandhi is giving this Bharat Jodo call to the nation. And back then, Congress was a thriving idealistic political movement against the British rulers and now it is an ever weakening political organization electorally defeated several times.
However, it is India at stake, not just the Congress party. That is why so many regional political parties, civil society organizations, traditional anti-Congress progressive forces like socialists and communists, intellectuals and civil servants have declared their support and are proactively participating in this Bharat Jodo Padyatra.
The basic message of Congress’ Bharat Jodo Padyatra can be interpreted as Nafrat Chhodo (Quit Hatred), given the ongoing strategic assault on communal harmony in Indian society and cunning use of hatred as a political tool by the party in power. India is essentially the ‘salad bowl’ rather than a ‘potpourri’ of diverse communities, we learn to co-exist naturally as we grow.
But Hindutva supremacists in power have not only undermined the constitutional and democratic moral principle of equality with respect to a large population of minorities, but they have also brought in regressive culture and reactionary philosophy among Hindus that shatters our fabric of coexistence.
The basic insecurity which competitive economic growth creates among the individuals as a flip side of positive economic aspirations, makes it easy for reactionary forces to grab the centre stage in disguise of development. That is what has happened to India. So ‘Connecting and Uniting India’ is a desired political programme in the chaotic and complex politics of our times.
But how do we fight divisive politics? Is padyatra a solution? Can the pilgrimage be a political programme in modern times? Gandhiji was seen as a saint by Indian masses almost a century back, the sainthood gave him authority to embark on spiritually motivated padyatras creating ripples among people and move the anti-British politics then. Rahul Gandhi too said that the Bharat Jodo Padayatra is like adhyatmik (spiritual) exercise to him.
There is an element of his personal struggle in everything that is happening and he may seek spiritual undercurrent to his politics, but there is a need for a political programme to emerge that catches the imagination of young minds. The problem that Rahul Gandhi is tackling is a creation of a certain politics and the antidote too would have to be political in nature.
How do we fight divisive politics? Is padyatra a solution? Can the pilgrimage be a political programme in modern times?
As Jairam Ramesh spelled out -- economic disparity, social polarization, and political concentration - are dividing the India of today. There is a need to tell youth that these three feeding into each other will bring in a faster decline of Indian society.
By 2047, we face a prospect of undergoing a political process that creates few affluent Indians surrounded by masses with their backs broken forever. We can only fear the disintegration of the country if we don’t strengthen the old and find the new avenues of our unity and connectedness as Indians.
Bharat Jodo has to help the average Indian to walk out of the fool's paradise that this regime has created. We need to tell our youth that society is not some corporate firm to have a linear growth, let alone the meteoric rise as a nation.
The agriculture community and its agitation against the farm laws that humbled Modi at least once publicly is one example of that negative political dynamic; we don’t want such unrest and political tragedies to unfold in our society.
Can Bharat Jodo Padyatra build itself to meet this humongous task of political turnaround of Indian society? We can’t hope for miracles, but the step is positive and right one. We will have some positive outcomes for sure. The electoral analysts can stay quiet for some time, ‘election only’ democratic debate does harm the democracy at large.
India is on a political cliff, where the Idea of India can survive only by evolving to reshape the divided society. India awaits for the new era being offered with newer thoughts, beyond healing the wounds of Hindutva hegemony and assault. India’s unity and connectedness are rooted in the basic humanity as our traditions go, but now we live in times where money and technology dominate.
Bharat Jodo will have to create the intangible value systems to iron out the hatred from our society and offer a new hope on the economy front that objectively serves the interests of common people.
Divided we will fall, connected we can work together to rebuild, united we can rise. It's time for Bharat Jodo.
---
*Both associated with the Socialist Party (India), Prof Pandey is also Magsaysay award winning scholar-activist

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