Congress launches Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra before elections

As India gears up for the national election, the opposition is striving to counter the electoral dominance of Modi’s BJP.

In a bid to regain political momentum ahead of India’s crucial national vote expected to take place in April or May, the main opposition Congress party has embarked on a two-month cross-country march. Led by Rahul Gandhi, the “Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra,” or “Unite India Justice March,” kicked off from Manipur’s Thoubal district, covering 6,713 kilometres (4,171 miles) in 67 days. The march aims to traverse 110 districts in 15 states, utilizing buses and foot travel.

This initiative marks the second time in the last two years that the Congress party has taken to the roads to rally support. In 2022, Rahul Gandhi led the “Bharat Jodo Yatra” from Kanyakumari to Indian-controlled Kashmir, covering 3,570 kilometres (2,218 miles) across 12 states in five months. The march addressed issues of growing economic inequality and rising religious polarization, challenging the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As India gears up for the national election, the opposition is striving to counter the electoral dominance of Modi’s BJP. Despite facing challenges, Modi’s party remains popular, and many surveys suggest a potential third consecutive term for Modi. The Congress party, along with other opposition parties, has formed the INDIA alliance (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) to present a united front.

However, the opposition alliance faced a setback in December 2023 when the BJP secured victories in three out of four crucial state elections. Modi, seeking re-election, grapples with a mix of domestic challenges, including economic struggles, unemployment concerns, religious tensions, and a perceived shrinking space for dissent and free media.

The Congress party’s strategic marches aim to resonate with voters across the diverse landscapes of India, emphasizing unity and justice. These initiatives underscore the high-stakes competition in the upcoming elections, as India’s political landscape continues to evolve against a backdrop of global diplomatic shifts and complex domestic issues.

As the Congress party tries to mobilize its supporters through extensive marches, the national election looms at a critical juncture, determining the trajectory of Indian politics and governance in the coming years. The party’s efforts will be closely watched as it strives to bridge the gap with the BJP and present a formidable challenge in the electoral arena.