The five Gujarat Parivartan Sankalp Yatras launched by the Congress on Tuesday from various zones of the state have demolished the perception that the party was ignoring the upcoming Gujarat Assembly election in favour of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
The Yatras, which drew a massive response on the first day in all zones, will cover more than 5,400km over the next seven days, addressing 145 public meetings.
The Yatras will involve all of the state’s Congress leaders, approximately a lakh party workers, and approximately a hundred senior leaders from various states. The goal is to have covered the entire state by the time the election schedule is announced and formal campaigning begins.
These Yatras were expected to start on the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel on October 31, but was delayed by a day because of the bridge collapse in Morbi in which around 140 persons lost their lives. The tragedy appears to have altered the backdrop of this election.
While the Morbi tragedy in itself was bad enough to jolt the state, Congress leaders believe it brought back the frightening memories of Covid-19 mishandling in the state that a large number of people might have forgotten.
The local BJP leadership, including chief minister Bhupendra Patel, does not enjoy any significant political support, and the BJP relies solely on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fight the anti-incumbency.
The Congress is aware of this reality and has questioned Modi’s credentials by exposing the much-hyped “Gujarat model” and the BJP’s governance record over the last 27 years that they have been in power. While issues like unemployment and high prices dominate the discourse, state Congress leaders have portrayed the Morbi tragedy as a classic example of the hollowness of the “Gujarat model” sold to the country by Modi.
Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil held a news conference on Wednesday to show the posters that were put up in Morbi, seeking credit for the BJP for the reopening of the bridge. This has demolished the BJP’s attempts to distance itself from the lapses leading to the tragedy. Gohil also played the video of what Modi had said when a flyover collapsed in Bengal a few years ago.
“We don’t want to politicise the tragedy. But the Prime Minister’s words cannot be ignored. The Prime Minister said it was an act of fraud, not an act of God. What is true in Bengal should be true in Gujarat,” Gohil said:
Most leaders have focused on Morbi deaths during these Yatras to highlight the hollowness of the BJP’s governance plank. The visuals showing desperate attempts to give a facelift to the civil hospital, with workers toiling through the night to spruce up walls and bringing in new beds, made the BJP’s rhetoric much more unconvincing.
While the politically important Saurashtra will have two Yatras, north, central and south Gujarat are having their separate Yatras. All the five Yatras are moving at the same time. These Yatras are being taken out in motorised raths and vehicles.
Party president Jagdish Thakor, Bharatsinh Solanki, Jignesh Mevani and Madhusudan Mistry are leading the north Yatra that started from Danta and would end at Gandhinagar after covering six districts. The south Yatra, led by Tushar Chaudhary and Anant Patel, will cover seven districts.
Former state chiefs Amit Chavda and Sidharth Patel, as well as legislature party leader Sukhram Rathwa, will lead the Yatra through nine districts. In Saurashtra, the first Yatra, led by Shaktisinh Gohil, will pass through important areas of Kutch, Morbi, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Porbandar, Dwarka, and Junagadh, while the second, led by former state chief Arjun Modhwadia and former CLP leader Paresh Dhanani, will start from Somnath and end in Ahmedabad.