There is no buzz at the Congress headquarters in Srinagar. In fact, it is near desolate. Party leaders tell you that all of them are in Jammu, to participate in Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, while the workers are “on the ground to carry the message” of harmony of the former Congress vice-president, and invite people to his Yatra, which will end with flag-hoisting in Srinagar on January 30.
On Srinagar’s Maulana Azad Road, the Congress’s state headquarters, there are less than a dozen workers and the party office in-charge, Mohammad Anwar Bhat. It is at this party office that Rahul will culminate his 3,000-plus-km Yatra with hoisting of the Tricolour.
A resident of Pulwama in South Kashmir, Bhat is arguably the only party leader in the Valley these days. “Everyone is out working for the Yatra,” says Bhat, surrounded by half-a-dozen workers, two of them women.
Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra will conclude in a week in Srinagar. Apart from the political buzz and the many controversies the cross-country foot march has spawned over the last four-and-a-half months, what has not gone unnoticed is the Nehru-Gandhi family scion’s consistent engagement with Hindu religion. And not just temple visits.
Ever since the Congress’s rout in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, the party has been racking its brain to find an antidote to the BJP’s Hindutva push and counter the perception that it is pro-Muslim, though it has been circumspect on its approach to engaging with Hinduism, regarding both how and how much. In 2018, Sonia Gandhi herself pointed out that the BJP had managed to convince people that the Congress was a “Muslim party”.