Mainstream Weekly

Home > 2022 > Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY): An apolitical perspective | Nayakara (...)

Mainstream, VOL 60 No 50-51, December 3, December 10 2022 [Double issue]

Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY): An apolitical perspective | Nayakara Veeresha

Friday 2 December 2022

by Nayakara Veeresha *

The 7th September, 2022 is one of the watershed moments in the country. The Indian National Congress (INC, hereafter Congress) Party’s former President Rahul Gandhi has begun the Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY, Unite India Pilgrimage/March) from the historic Kanniyakumari of Tamil Nadu. The Kanniyakumari district has a special place in the history and civilisation of our country. It is the same place where Swami Vivekananda has meditated on the future of India in 1892 after four years of long march since 1888 starting from Kolkata. During the marathon three days of meditation, Vivekananda could able to get some of the answers for his pertinent questions such as India’s freedom, uplifting the masses from the clutches of poverty and the action plan for achieving the same.

After 130 years, now in 2022 the Congress party is executing the long march as an instrument to connect to the people of India and the role of Congress in Indian Politics. India is in crisis not in political sense rather in non-political domains such as economy, culture, history, ecology and society in particular. The societal crisis is deep and invisible in the context of state trying to overtake society with its identity and religious politics all in the name of development. Henceforth, the BJY needs to be seen beyond the political aspirations and its intended goals. Accordingly, here an effort is made to understand the BJY purely from apolitical perspective to explore its criticality in the backdrop of larger social change.

In doing so, two critical questions need to be framed in order to find out some plausible answers to them. (i) What is this all about Bharat Jodo or Unite India? (ii) Why does a common citizen shall evince interest in this particular event? For the citizen of the country, the current BJY provides an opportunity to understand the role of political party in the governance of the country and prepares the citizen from being a silent spectator to active participant in the governance. This cannot be viewed or perceived as political act because informed citizenry is central to the stable society especially in a diversified country like ours.

The same strategy was used by the Gopal Krishna Gokhale in the case of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi when the former asked later to tour the country before plunging into the politics. Accordingly, MK Gandhi toured the India which prepared him to rise to the level of “Father of the Nation” or “Mahatma”. In simple terms, it laid the platform for the transformation of Gandhi to Mahatma of the nation. The BJY is such an avenue where the subjective people can transform herself/himself into an objective citizen who is ready to delineate the subtleties and nuances of Aristotle’s political man without being active participant of the party. This is as an act of citizen empowerment, which is apolitical in nature.

The BJY’s mandate ascertains that it raises the “voice against the economic, social and political issues that are dividing our nation today. The yatra seeks to address rampant unemployment & inflation, the politics of hate and division and the over-centralisation of our political system”. This stated goal remains as distant dream unless the political parties irrespective of the right, left and centrist ideology perceive citizens as active participants in the governance rather than only as electoral subjects. The BJY is an outcome of the larger societal crisis within which political crisis is deeply embedded in it.

Gledhill (2000) urges that “we need to think about how the political has come to be seen as something separate and he concludes that “the perceived autonomy of the ‘political’ in Western societies is one of the key ideological dimensions of Western modernity, a way of representing power relations that obscure the social foundations and the way they work in practice”. Karl Marx reiterated that state is part and parcel of the society and Hegel’s conceptualization of state as ethical order is in consonance with that Kautilya’s Arthashastra “In the happiness of his subjects lies the king’s happiness; in their welfare his welfare”.

From the foregoing analysis and discussion, it is understood that the BJY is an opportunity to rekindle the civilisation values of India especially in the political domain. In other words, the BJY is an historic occasion to rekindle the indigenisation of politics where politics is always seen as transformative tool for social change rather than being used as instrument of power to deepen the social divisions in the country on the basis of perceived identities/ideologies. As citizens, it is time we actively participate in governance rather than entrust the country’s progress in the hands of the political elites. The transition from representative to participative democracy is the need of the hour. This is the way forward to manifest the true potential of the preamble of our Constitution “We the People”.

* (Author: Nayakara Veeresha is a PhD Student in the Centre for Political Institutions, Governance and Development at the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bengaluru. Email: veeresha[at]isec.ac.in, nayakaraveeresha[at]gmail.com. The views expressed are personal)

References

Gledhill. J. (2000). Power and Its Disguises. Anthropolgical Perspectives on Politics. London: Pluto Press

Notice: Mainstream Weekly appears online only.