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The Hindu and its love affair with the BJ Yatra and Rahul Gandhi: A masterclass in how to be more loyal than the King

The focus of their coverage was to elevate Rahul Gandhi, even though there is no substance. Their coverage is truly a great lesson to be taught in journalistic schools – how to be more loyal than the king!

When you take up any project (small or big) at your school, college, work or in life, one of the first things you visualize is how to quantify your results. What do you intend to achieve? How will you go about achieving it? Can you make it novel? How can you stand out from your peers? These and many such thoughts go through your mind and you work towards achieving them. 

Now imagine when you hear about a political project by the Congress party at the scale of Bharat Jodo Yatra. We were constantly told about how this Yatra is aimed at unifying India and stopping hatred. So, the least you would expect is that the Congress party will at least stay united and not spread hatred in the country. 

But how can any of these be achieved when there is no inherent sincerity in the man leading this yatra? For example, he was in Hyderabad. He addressed a public gathering right in front of the Indira Gandhi statue, at what is famously called the Necklace Road. Right across the road, if you literally walk for about 100 feet, is the statue of another former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao. 

Map of the statue

Rahul Gandhi and the entire Congress party did not even bother to pay homage to this statue. In fact, this statue was not constructed by the Congress party in the first place! You may have observed the “P.V. Narasimha Rao Marg” right next to the statue of P.V. Narasimha Rao. Do you know where that leads to? Let’s take a look at the map below:

map of the area

That road leads to P.V. Narasimha Rao’s samadhi – P.V. Gyan Bhoomi. Rahul Gandhi and the entire Congress party did not bother to go to P.V. Gyan Bhoomi and pay homage to him. It was as if the statue and the samadhi didn’t even exist for them. And therefore when Rahul Gandhi did the drama of visiting the samadhi of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi, it was not very difficult for the common citizen to see through the vile nature of the Gandhi family. Rahul Gandhi’s favourite newspaper, The Hindu, though ignored this contradiction. In fact, they told us that “By paying tributes to A.B. Vajpayee, the first Prime Minister from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Mr Gandhi has sought to make a distinction between the current iteration of Hindutva from its own original content and intent, tenuous as that may be.”

P.V. Narasimha Rao was a lifelong congressman and stepped up at one of the most crucial moments for both the party and the country. What real “unification” can someone like Rahul Gandhi achieve when he can’t even adhere to the basics of that concept in his own party? Very conveniently, in their entire coverage and analysis of the BJ Yatra, The Hindu makes zero mention of Rahul ignoring and insulting a Prime Minister from the Congress party. 

The inherent lack of sincerity doesn’t end with this example alone. At the beginning of the yatra, The Hindu told us that “Bharat Yatris to eat, sleep on the road for 5 months”. For some strange reason, The Hindu has different headlines on the web and print editions, for the same story

The Hindu’s coverage of Rahul Gandhi and Bharat Jodo Yatra

You would imagine that Rahul Gandhi and his 119 co-walkers, called Bharat Yatris, will actually “tough it out” and actually “sleep, and eat on the road”. Hidden in the news report is a small detail – they will actually sleep in containers mounted on trucks – a total of 60 containers have been used by the Congress party. Not mentioned at all in these reports of The Hindu is the nature of these “containers”. NDTV made a brief attempt to show the movement of these containers but it looked like there was some pressure not to highlight them.

NDTV headline

Towards the end of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, The Wire was commissioned to elevate Rahul Gandhi’s “sufferings” but this brilliant OpIndia piece dissects and shows us the luxurious lifestyle that Rahul Gandhi has lived all along the yatra. All of these were AC containers fitted with luxury beddings and bathroom fittings, but newspapers like The Hindu very conveniently chose, not only to hide such luxury but to lie to all of their readers in a blatantly insincere attempt to elevate Rahul Gandhi. 

The Hindu’s elevation of Rahul Gandhi, all through the yatra, is a great journalistic lesson on how to be more loyal than the king! In various instances, we have been told how ambitious and audacious this yatra is. We were told by The Hindu that “his message of harmony is as inspiring as it is innocently idealistic.” The “message of harmony” took a severe beating right from the start of the yatra itself – when Rahul “innocently” met Pastor George Ponnaiah, who fiercely advocated the breaking of India; met Uday Kumar who stalled many development projects in the country; met Medha Patkar who was the reason for the misery of crores of people; met Naxal sympathizers such as Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan all along his yatra. Now, imagine the wordplay The Hindu would have resorted to if BJP did a program aimed at “Jodo” (unify) and met with those who practice the exact opposite! But they conveniently chose to ignore all of these severe incidents and continued to elevate him. 

Just a month after Rahul Gandhi left Telangana, elected MLAs, MPs and other leaders raised a banner of revolt and came up with a “Save Congress” plan. The Hindu wrote a glowing report on November 9th on how Rahul Gandhi united and enthused Congress leaders and cadres. And on December 18th, a banner of revolt was raised by the exact same leaders! 

The Hindu’s coverage of Rahul Gandhi and Bharat Jodo Yatra

And of course, The Hindu decides not to comment on the futility of the “Jodo” yatra (especially when it gave a glowing tribute when Rahul was touring!). We were told that there was widespread excitement when Rahul Gandhi was touring Kerala for a full 18 days (in Sep-Oct of 2022). This is also the state from where he is an MP too. He wanted to fight against hatred, communalism and whatnot.

And in February 2023, we are treated to this opinion article that describes the various problems plaguing the Kerala Congress – and that includes how they bullied (i.e. spread hatred) against their own leader and forced him to resign. The only fault of Anil Anthony was to stand up for India! 

The Hindu’s coverage of Rahul Gandhi and Bharat Jodo Yatra

The February 6th article makes no references to Rahul’s “message of harmony”; does not point out the irony of Rahul conducting a Bharat Jodo (Unify India) yatra and then firing his own leaders for doing the exact same thing. It’s as if the Bharat Jodo Yatra didn’t even happen in the first place! The article tells us that “Political observers feel that there is a crab mentality in the Congress leadership”. What a brilliant way to escape naming Rahul Gandhi as the “Congress leadership” (after all he is an MP from this very state!) 

Rahul goes to Punjab and the party splits there – notice the stark difference between The Hindu’s headline and of the other media. 

The Hindu’s coverage of Rahul Gandhi and Bharat Jodo Yatra

The severe infighting in Rajasthan that led to unprecedented chaos for the Congress’s own Presidential election happened just a couple of weeks after the Bharat Jodo Yatra began. After the Yatra left Rajasthan, the Congress was still a disgruntled unit. Before the Yatra entered J&K, leaders resigned from the Congress party, but we saw zero references to these critical events in The Hindu’s analysis of the BJ Yatra. 

News18 headline

Instead, we were treated to glowing articles that tell us that “Bharat Jodo Yatra is not for the faint-hearted or the weak-kneed — the pace is back-breaking, the terrain can be challenging.” You read it right, they wrote this! 

The Hindu’s coverage of Rahul Gandhi and Bharat Jodo Yatra

We are told that in fact “The frenetic yatra is also an escape for Mr Gandhi from the malfunctioning Congress.” This kind of analysis totally confuses me. What kind of a leader escapes from problems in his own party? And more importantly why does the same newspaper then elevate him with flowery language such as “The march is on. Long. Arduous. Lonely.” Such strong prose by The Hindu in the same article where they also say that Rahul is escaping from responsibilities is confounding! 

The Hindu published such glowing pieces very regularly all through the BJ yatra – and not a single one of them touched on any tangible benefit to the Congress because of this yatra! My personal favourite is Kamal Hasan’s “A yatra that is the darn to repair India’s gashes” – so vacuous in its content that it’s a miracle it occupied so much space! 

The Hindu’s coverage of Rahul Gandhi and Bharat Jodo Yatra

In addition to the multitude of glowing articles, The Hindu also published three editorials on the Bharat Jodo Yatra. In the first editorial, at the beginning of the yatra, we have been told that the yatra should not be about Rahul. 

The Hindu’s coverage of Rahul Gandhi and Bharat Jodo Yatra

Such sagely advice from The Hindu was not followed by The Hindu themselves! It has already been shown how The Hindu focussed so much on Rahul Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi alone. They have even isolated him from the problems of Congress and of course, they have even isolated him from the other “Bharat Yatris” who travelled along with him. Have you seen a single story about those yatris, who perhaps faced more hardship than Rahul Gandhi actually did? Nope. It is understandable that the Congress party doesn’t want such stories, but what explains media like The Hindu ignoring those stories? Especially when they themselves have sermonised that the BJ Yatra should not be about Rahul! 

In the same editorial, The Hindu wrote that “The notion that NGOs and actors outside the Congress structure will give buoyancy to his politics is wrong and misplaced.” Yet another sagely advice. Now let’s see what The Hindu analysed when the situation ended up with NGOs and literally actors outside the Congress structure getting involved. 

The Hindu’s coverage of Rahul Gandhi and Bharat Jodo Yatra

I don’t understand how you can lose elections if you “establish a direct connection”. And if the yatra failed in establishing a direct connection, then what exact purpose has it served? 

Their second editorial was ambivalently titled as “Clarity and Confusion”. The editorial is a masterclass in creating confusion and not providing any clarity! 

The Hindu’s coverage of Rahul Gandhi and Bharat Jodo Yatra

Take a look at the line below the title for example – “Use moral clarity for a roadmap for electoral success”. The use of lofty phrases such as “moral clarity” may make them sound intellectual but such phrases have zero value to anyone. In fact, in this editorial, we are told that Rahul Gandhi’s “intentions are beyond reproach.” The language is baffling – it’s as if we should not question Rahul Gandhi at all. 

Their third and final editorial was poetically titled “Miles to Go”. If the conclusion after literally walking miles, is that there is still “Miles to Go”, it really speaks volumes about the nature of the yatra!

The Hindu’s coverage of Rahul Gandhi and Bharat Jodo Yatra

But why are they saying that there are “Miles to go”, after publishing so many articles telling us that Rahul Gandhi was the best? 

Because, for starters, this yatra has not seen any electoral benefit for the Congress – they lost an important bypoll in Telangana when the Yatra was in the state; they lost the Gujarat elections very badly; the Himachal victory was despite of Rahul Gandhi! 

Because no new political alliances were formed even after so much walking. Some zillion parties were invited – most of them declined to participate. The only place where regional parties showed excitement was J&K. Everywhere else, not a single new alliance was formed. Not a single new friend was made. 

Because no new narrative was created. It was all rhetoric about “hatred” at every single state he went to. Local issues were referred to in passing only. The overall message always boiled down to how brave Rahul Gandhi is and how he is fighting against “hatred”. And towards the end of the yatra, Rahul Gandhi ended up boasting how he hasn’t seen any hatred in the country. If the very premise of your yatra has been dismantled, then ofcourse you have “miles to go”! 

Because the yatra titled Bharat Jodo, ended up belittling the Indian Army; ended up creating differences between regions in India; and ended up with Congress Todo at many places. 

The Hindu’s coverage of the entire yatra was bereft of all these contradictions. The focus of their coverage was to elevate Rahul Gandhi, even though there is no substance. Their coverage is truly a great lesson to be taught in journalistic schools – how to be more loyal than the king! However, amidst all of this, the best headline also came from The Hindu, which aptly summarized the entire BJ Yatra! 

The Hindu’s coverage of Rahul Gandhi and Bharat Jodo Yatra
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S. Sudhir Kumar
S. Sudhir Kumar
Obsessive eater, Compulsive sleeper, Repulsive Writer

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