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Breaking down Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra: How everything was planned but portrayed as ‘spontaneous people’s movement’

From snacks to toilets to where Rahul Gandhi would stop for breaks - everything was broken down to last detail for 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'

On January 30, 2023, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi completed his Bharat Jodo Yatra that started in September 2022 from Kanyakumari. The Yatra was wrapped up in Jammu and Kashmir. During the Yatra, there were several instances where the journey was more of a ‘Bharat Todo Yatra’ as many people who are known for their divisive politics joined Gandhi.

Simultaneously, the Congress leader made several comments that sparked either controversy or meme-fest. However, one thing is for sure as an event, Yatra was a quite successful PR stunt for the grand old party, especially for its Prime Minister candidate Rahul Gandhi.

In a detailed report, Dainik Bhaskar noted how leaders and workers of the Congress party worked for months to plan every leg of the Yatra in every state. Furthermore, two event companies from Mumbai were also roped in for the arrangements in Maharashtra, the report suggested.

Drawing similarities with MK Gandhi

In an interesting PR stunt, a photograph of Rahul Gandhi was made viral on social media platforms where he was seen with two women. The woman on the right was wearing glasses while the woman on the left was without glasses. The photograph has a striking similarity with a famous photograph of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi where he was walking with his granddaughter Sita and wife of his nephew Kaanu’s wife Abhaben. Factually speaking, Rahul Gandhi has no relationship with MK Gandhi.

MK Gandhi (Left) Rahul Gandhi (Right)

How much of the BJY was planned?

The reporters of Dainik Bhaskar investigated the whole event and traced the steps of the Congress leader to find out how much of the Yatra was spontaneous and how much of it was planned. The reporters met 16 people from seven states who were seen with Rahul Gandhi in photographs. They asked them three questions.

  • First, how they met Gandhi, Who told them about the Yatra and how well were they prepared?
  • Was there any security check before Gandhi arrived or it was as spontaneous as shown in the photographs?
  • When they think about meeting Gandhi, how much life changed?

Kerala

On September 11, 2022, Rahul Gandhi made a stop at a tea shop in Nemum’s Annakkun Church Junction. The tea shop belongs to one Stanley Thattukada. He told Dainik Bhaskar that at around 7 AM, a few people came and told him to make arrangements for a few big leaders. He said, “They came with electronic equipment and checked my shop.” He was informed ten minutes before Gandhi’s arrival that it was the Congress leader who would be drinking tea at his shop. As he did not have much time, Stanley and his wife prepared fritters and banana fingers. Gandhi stayed at his shop for 30 minutes. While leaving, he gave him Rs 2,000.

Source: Bharat Jodo Yatra official website

Interestingly, there is a hardware shop next to Stanley’s, owned by one Bernard, a Congress Booth President. He told Dainik Bhaskar that he was informed about Gandhi’s proposed visit on the same day. He was not allowed to meet Gandhi, Bernard claimed.

Trivandrum

In Neyattinkra, a 12th-class student named Daksha Dilip MD met Gandhi. Her photograph went viral on social media. Upon asking how she met Gandhi, Daksha said, “I came to know about Gandhi’s visit via the newspaper. I asked my father if I wanted to meet him. We were waiting on the roadside for him. When he was crossing, I called him. He saw me and asked the security person to let me come”. No security check took place before allowing her to meet Gandhi. She talked to him for 2-3 minutes.

Source: Bharat Jodo Yatra official website

Pallichal

In Pallichal, Gandhi met one Ratish. He told Bhaskar that around 5 PM in September, some people visited his place and told him that Rahul Gandhi wanted to use their washroom. When he allowed, the team checked the house and 15 minutes later Gandhi came. His wife told Bhaskar’s reporter that the security personnel stayed with her when she was preparing tea. They checked the ingredients as well. Gandhi stayed at their place for 30 minutes, talked to their children and left.

Ratish is a member of the Communist party. He said it was shocking for him that Gandhi visited his place. He alleged the visit might have been planned by Gandhi’s team.

Multiple teams were formed for the arrangements at the national and local level

As per District Congress Committee head Plode Ravi, BJY reached Trivandrum on September 11, 2022. The team was preparing for Gandhi’s visit for a month. There were teams formed at the district and local levels to arrange everything for the Yatra. Six main committees were formed that included Sub Committees, Transport Committee, Steering Committee, Food Committee, Accommodation Committee and Finance Committee. There were five committees at the organisational level. These were District Level Committees, Panchayat Level Committees, Assembly Level Committees, Booth Level Committees and Block Level Committees.

Ravi told Bhaskar’s journalist that the Congress workers collected funds for the arrangements. There are 2740 booths in Trivandrum. Every booth worker was handed over coupons worth Rs 50 thousand each. They went to every house seeking donations and used coupons of Rs 5, Rs 10 and Rs 100 to collect the donations.

He further told Bhaskar that the meetings were preplanned. He said, “In Trivandrum, he met Gandhian leader Ramachandram. Then he met handloom workers. He also went to a temple in Trichy. All these events were preplanned. Ravi’s team had arranged for everything. Congress workers were available at every point to provide the support required including for SPG for security. Only those people were allowed to meet Gandhi who was selected by the Congress leaders beforehand.”

He further told the reporter that a team of Congress members would stay 45 minutes ahead of Gandhi and make arrangements for stops. Where Gandhi would take a break, security arrangements etc were the responsibility of this team.

There were three criteria that were followed to choose the location for breaks:

  • The house, restaurant or tea shop should have a toilet.
  • There should be enough space where Gandhi could sit and talk to 2-5 people.
  • There should be an arrangement for tea and snacks.

Karnataka

In Karnataka’s Mysore, Gandhi stopped at a pickle factory in Nanjangud. Vishvachetan KL, the partner of the factory, told Bhaskar’s reporter that they were aware that Gandhi would pass through the factory’s location. At around 7 AM, a few security personnel came and informed them that at 8:30 AM a prominent leader would visit the factory and asked if they could arrange for snacks. At 8:15 AM, he was informed that Gandhi would be visited. Gandhi came with Randeep Surjewala and 50 others. They had tea and snacks at the factory and talked to the factory’s partner’s son Vishwaroop.

Interestingly, Varun Venugopal, owner of Platinum In Restaurant of Mysore, told Bhaskar’s reporter that when Gandhi stopped at the restaurant, no one was allowed to use the phones. Only camerapersons of the Yatra were allowed to take pictures.

The uninvited were beaten up

There were instances where those who tried to meet Gandhi without prior approval were beaten up. Yogesh Anneyay of Mysore tried to gift Gandhi an old photograph of Rajiv Gandhi. The security personnel did not allow him to meet and instead, beat him up. However, Gandhi spotted what was happening and asked the security personnel to let Yogesh pass.

On the contrary, another student named Noufil Ahmed was allowed to meet Gandhi without any problem. He even talked to Gandhi about jobs and unemployment. He, along with a group of 70-75 youth met Gandhi and gave him their resumes.

While speaking to the Congress leaders in Karnataka, Bhaskar reporters found out that the arrangements were different in every state. For example, in Karnataka, the arrangements were made at four levels. Here too, the preparations started a month before the Yatra. Around ten meetings were held to form the structure of the arrangements. All the permissions were obtained fifteen days before Gandhi’s visit. The famous places including Sutur Math, Chamundi Hill Temple, Masjid-E-Azam etc were visited by the Congress’s team members multiple times in two months to make the arrangements.

From protests against the Central Government to visits to temples, mosques and churches, everything was pre-planned at least 15 days before the day of the events. For the Mysore visit, an application was submitted to the DM office eight days before the date of the event. In the document accessed by Bhaskar, all details of Gandhi’s visit excluding team breaks and details of temple, mosque and church visits were there.

Source: Dainik Bhaskar

Andhra Pradesh

In Aalur, Gandhi met a man named Rasool who came with his 2-year-old son. He expressed his surprise when he was allowed to meet Gandhi without any check. Interestingly, the little lad was wearing a shiny cap and the photograph went viral on social media.

D Pasha, Congress Incharge of Aalur, told Bhaskar that they were informed about Gandhi’s plan in June. His team was given the task to make all the arrangements. They had put up over 10,000 posters and five auto-rikshaws were hired to promote Yatra.

In Karnul, Congress District Committee Chief M Sudhakar Babu told Bhaskar that Yatra passed via inner roads and not via main roads and it would not have made such an impact on the main roads. Everything was planned 15 days before the day of Gandhi’s visit. All the programs were preplanned by the Congress workers, former MLA Lakshminarayan Reddy told Bhaskar. Wherever, Bhaskar’s team went, everyone, told them that all the events were preplanned and the arrangements were made by the local leaders and workers.

Maharashtra

In Maharashtra, Congress spokesperson Santosh Pandhagle told Bhaskar that they went to Kerala to study how preparations were made so that those can be replicated in the state. He said that they were informed about the Yatra five months prior. Two event management companies were also roped in for the arrangements along with workers from private firms.

Madhya Pradesh

In Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa, Gandhi stopped at Rahul Naushad’s place. He told Bhaskar that he was informed about the visit two hours prior. The chairs and snacks were brought by Gandhi’s team.

Rajasthan

In Rajasthan as well, special arrangements were made for some famous artists including Langa-Mangniyaar artists, Kalbheliya dancers etc to meet Gandhi. All the arrangements were made by local leaders.

From Bhaskar’s report, it is evident that several incidents where things looked spontaneous were pre-planned at the booth level. Celebrities, articles and groups that met Gandhi were all part of the plan. Only those were allowed to meet Gandhi who was cleared by Congress committees and passed security checks. The committee members in every state started preparing for the visits months before the Yatra started. The party collected funds for the Yatra using coupons.

During Bharat Jodo Yatra, mainstream media was kept at a distance but planned interviews were given to YouTubers. It was all planned by the Congress committees who will be invited to meet Gandhi and what kind of questions would be asked.

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