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‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ or ‘Credit Lelo Yatra’? After Cheetah, Congress claims credit for the revision of the OROP scheme

Devoid of any fresh narrative to offer its rapidly dwindling followers, the Congress party seemed to have doubled down on publicising its latest boondoggle—' Bharat Jodo Yatra', laying credit to each and everything—from bringing cheetahs from Nigeria to the revision in the OROP scheme.

Congress appears to be having a hard time justifying the utility of their boondoggle ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’—a rudderless political campaign crisscrossing the country and struggling profoundly with articulating its objectives and enunciating its raison d’être—even to the Congress leadership.

Therefore, it did not come as a surprise when senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh fell over himself to ascribe the Centre’s recent decision to revise the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme to benefit over 25 lakh armed forces beneficiaries to Rahul Gandhi and ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.

Earlier today, in his press conference, Ramesh said the Centre revised the OROP scheme two days after Rahul Gandhi’s interaction with former soldiers and as a direct result of the impact of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.

“Rahul Gandhi met with ex-servicemen, who raised many issues, including One Rank One Pension. Two days after this meeting, the Centre announced a revision in the OROP scheme. It is a direct impact of ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’,” Ramesh said.

Centre revises OROP scheme, to benefit 25 lakh pensioners

Earlier yesterday, the Union Cabinet approved the next revision of the pension of defence forces personnel and family pensioner under One Rank One Pension (OROP).

Briefing reporters after a meeting of the union cabinet, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said the decision will lead to enhanced pension as per the OROP proposal. The cabinet meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The benefit would also be extended to family pensioners including war widows and disabled pensioners, Thakur said.

He said benefits will be extended to about 25.13 lakh armed forces pensioners and family pensioners.

Congress hack of laying credit for decisions it deems favourable while criticizing the Centre for others

However, this is not the first time that Congress leaders seemed desperate to lay credit for the central government’s decisions and pat itself for shepherding the Centre in the ‘right’ direction, even though Rahul Gandhi had constantly been grumbling that the BJP government has fascist tendencies.

On the one hand, Congress accuses the Modi government of being dictatorial, while on the other, Congress gleefully lays claim to credit over decisions taken by them, emphasising that the Centre heeded pieces of advice propounded by the Congress party.

But this dichotomy underscoring the hypocrisy of the Congress party is not a recent phenomenon, given that the grand old party has long co-opted Centre’s decisions it deemed positives as an outcome of their “relentless pressure” while discarding other moves it does not agree with as ‘fascistic impulses’.

Such political expediency has become a hallmark of the Congress party of late, covering up for the party’s inability to dazzle voters with a fresh perspective and an inspiring vision that sets it apart from the developmental agenda of the BJP government.

Congress claims credit for the Modi government’s move to bring Cheetahs from Africa

As a part of its political opportunism, the Congress party initially criticised PM Modi for importing African cheetahs, with Congress leader Nana Patole alleging that cheetahs brought the Lumpy virus to India from Nigeria.

When it realised that such allegations did little to generate resentment against the Centre, it took a 180-degree about-face, claiming credit for the Modi government’s decision to bring cheetahs from the African subcontinent.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi releasing wild cheetahs in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park in September 2022, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh claimed credit stating that the Cheetah project was finalised on his visit in 2010. Even then, Ramesh inexplicably linked it to ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, ludicrously claiming that releasing cheetahs in the jungle was a diversionary move to distract the country’s attention from the container yatra.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted, “PM hardly ever acknowledges continuity in governance. Cheetah project going back to my visit to Capetown on 25.04.2010 is the latest example. The tamasha orchestrated by PM today is unwarranted and is yet another diversion from pressing national issues and #BharatJodoYatra.”

Congress staring at the fate of being trounced by smaller regional parties

Such attention-seeking attempts betray the Congress party’s insecurities over its leader and a political campaign, which by all accounts, appears as an exercise in futility. Devoid of any reinvigorating narrative to impress its voters, Congress is facing an existential crisis, as witnessed during the recent assembly election polls, where BJP continued its winning run in Gujarat despite 27 years in power while Congress scraped by a tenuous majority in Himachal Pradesh, a state that has a history of alternating between the BJP and Congress. 

While Congress’ historical ubiquity and its hidebound tradition of servitude towards Gandhis have ensured that Rahul Gandhi remains relevant in Indian politics, the party loyalists are also saddled with the responsibility of projecting their leader’s brainchild as a political masterstroke. It is for this reason every Congress leader rushes to exaggerate the impact of ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, describe it as a pathbreaking campaign, even though they struggle to articulate the aims and objectives of the yatra. 

With ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, the Congress party is simply hoping to project a facade of being a politically potent force, even though they are fast losing relevance in a rapidly evolving opposition landscape, where smaller regional parties are challenging Congress’ traditional hegemony. 

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Amit Kelkar
Amit Kelkar
a Pune based IT professional with keen interest in politics

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