[WSMDiscuss] [pmarc] Bharat Jodo Yatra: Yet Another (Very Engaged) Note from the Ground Zero

Sukla Sen sukla.sen at gmail.com
Fri Oct 28 05:49:24 CEST 2022

I. You have confused "fact" with "judgement".
What Rajiv Gandhi should have done is a "judgement".
That a subsequent Congress Prime Minister--a Sikh himself--and the then
Congress leader Sonia Gandhi apologised are two "facts".

II. Whether these facts are enough to wash away the sins of Sikh massacre
is again a "judgement" -- a subjective opinion.

That the Congress would more than once win the assembly polls in Punjab --
in 1992, 2002 and 2017 -- strongly suggests that Sikhs, by and large, have
decided to move on.
Indira Gandhi had, btw, been assassinated in 1984.

There's no audible and credible allegation that these polls were not
reasonably "free" and "fair".
During 2002, there was an NDA government at the Centre headed by Vajpayee
of the BJP.
In 1992, it was Narasimha Rao--at the head of a minority Congress
government--and 2017, Manmohan Singh of the Congress leading the UPA.


On Fri, Oct 28, 2022, 04:57 Ajit Singh <ajit at ajitsingh.ca> wrote:

> Mr. Sukla your facts are distorted and biased. The apology should have
> been by Rajiv Gandhi rather than a TOADY PM Manmohan Singh. Time-lapse does
> not mean anything when the Wounds and the EVIL Crimes Committed were
> healed by HYPOCRITICAL apologies. Sir, I don't blame you, because the Hindu
> media is always on the side of Rulers who attacked DARBAR SAHIB, and 39
> Sikh Gurdwaras in Punjab followed by decades-long GENOCIDE inflicting
> TORTURES, KILLINGS IN FAKE ENCOUNTERS. The Congress govt. that you talk
> about in Punjab were not democratically elected, but installed by Indira
> Congress. Mr. Sukla Sen Sir. It was Shameful and Evil when the Members and
> Ministers of the Indira Congress incited by Rajiv Gandhi himself as PM
> participated in EVIL Murders of people just because they were SikhsTRUTH
> Ajit Singh.
> On Wed, Oct 26, 2022 at 12:32 AM Sukla Sen <sukla.sen at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Dear Mr Singh,
>> The pogrom that had followed the highly condemnable assassination of Mrs
>> Gandhi was, of course, too ghastly.
>> But, the "genocide" which was a sort of the culmination of the rise of
>> Bhrindanwale--initially encouraged by Mrs Gandhi herself--and the chain of
>> tragic consequence that would follow had, essentially, come to an end in
>> 1984 or thereabout.
>> That's almost four decades by now.
>> The Congress would subsequently publicly apologise. It's Sikh Prime
>> Minister did it. So did Mrs Sonia Gandhi.
>> Punjab would elect Congress governments more than once since then.
>> Right at the moment, "India" is under dismantlement.
>> You may be rejoicing.
>> I do not. I'd do my little bit to stop and reverse -- as long as I can.
>> Sukla
>> On Wed, Oct 26, 2022, 02:22 Ajit Singh <ajit at ajitsingh.ca> wrote:
>>> *Mr, Sukla Sir, you have written just one example of one
>>> journalist slain, and this lady with a Bleeding heart is making a big deal
>>> out of this one incident. The Congress of Mrs. Indira Gandhi was also of
>>> her kind, and she could not see the thousands of Sikhs TORTURED and SLAIN
>>> in 1984, leading to several decades of  GENOCIDE OF SIKHS continued by her
>>> son Rajiv and The whole Corrupt administration and Police under their
>>> Control? One need not say much more about these Hypocritic people with
>>> Double Standards.*
>>> *The EVIL Crimes committed by Indira Congress and her KABILA will always
>>> be remembered for all time to come.*
>>> ajit Singh.
>>> On Tue, Oct 25, 2022 at 8:39 AM sukla.sen at gmail.com <sukla.sen at gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>> [The note reproduced below in full is of course, unedited except for
>>>> the highlights.
>>>> The note, an intensely engaged one from a feminist who had been a
>>>> critic of the Congress party all her life is noteworthy if not for anything
>>>> ele only for that reason.
>>>> She is of course not the only one of her kind. To take just one
>>>> example, the elderly but spirited mother of the slain celebrated Bangalore
>>>> journalist Gauri Lankesh had, just a few days back, walked hand-in-hand
>>>> with Rahul Gandhi together with her other daughter. So did quite a few
>>>> prominent transgender activists. These video clips have been posted by the
>>>> Yatra itself. These two -- out of so many -- are, perhaps, the most
>>>> emblematic.
>>>> That clearly adds to the argument put forward that the Yatra has
>>>> stirred up hopes even well beyond the traditional support base of the GOP.
>>>> However, there is a large gap between the mission of the Yatra and the
>>>> Congress Party of the day. That too has come out in no uncertain terms.
>>>> The issue is whether the momentum gathered by the Yatra would
>>>> eventually translate itself into a reborn Congress -- ready and fit to
>>>> carry the struggle ahead? To save "India" -- and its people -- from the
>>>> impending doom? That's the billion-rupee question.
>>>> In order to elicit a positive outcome, we also have to play some roles?]
>>>> *A walk of hope!*
>>>> A. Suneetha*
>>>> I joined Bharat Jodo Yatra out of a sense of desperation and hope.
>>>> Desperation borne out of the rapid depletion of space for dissent,
>>>> shrinking civil liberties, collapse of institutions including the higher
>>>> judiciary, elections becoming a stand in for democracy, open attempts to
>>>> reduce India’s Muslim population to second class citizenship and imminent
>>>> threat of Hindu rashtra overtaking the Indian constitution in the next
>>>> election has been a cause of intense worry and anxiety. Just like
>>>> scores of friends and colleagues, I too have been suffering from the
>>>> debilitating fear that the several political parties, with a rich political
>>>> history of challenging the hegemony of the Congress and even replacing it,
>>>> have been failing to challenge the new hegemon, the Sangh Parivar and its
>>>> political party, the BJP or the unparallelled slide of this country into
>>>> authoritarianism. Some have even been mimicking it at their locations with
>>>> slight variations.
>>>> Not that there has not been a pushback against this slide. The massive
>>>> peoples’ movements against the despicable CAA and NRC and farmers’
>>>> movement, both led by India’s minority communities, have definitely done so.
>>>> Most violations of civil liberties and human rights continue to be
>>>> challenged by the marginalised communities, including women. Small and big
>>>> protests against closures of public sector units and financial
>>>> irregularities too continue. These numerous struggles and protests
>>>> sometimes found some support from some political parties that somehow have
>>>> not brought themselves to articulate an alternative and sustained vision
>>>> for India’s political future.
>>>> Post 2014, the Indian National Congress meanwhile was shrinking too,
>>>> losing out state after state, unable to build on the social democratic
>>>> policies and laws that it undertook, failing to hold onto its own cadre and
>>>> leaders, and most importantly, with a leader who appeared reluctant to lead.
>>>> Would he take the lead or not and when have been the questions that
>>>> troubled only the Congress party initially. After the BJP’s victory in
>>>> 2019, they have become important to everyone, as the prospects for a
>>>> coalition of regional parties receded. Having been one of those who gave up
>>>> on the Congress party’s ability to come together and fight, of late I
>>>> turned into someone invested precisely in its revival and looked for Rahul
>>>> Gandhi to take up the leadership seriously. But what kind of leadership -is
>>>> leading the party into electoral victories enough? Madhya Pradesh and other
>>>> states proved that it was not. Do we not need someone who would take a
>>>> strong position against the slide into authoritarianism and the Sangh
>>>> Parivar kind of politics?
>>>> Bharat Jodo Yatra with its clear messaging against the current
>>>> atmosphere of hate politics and anti-authoritarianism offered hope in this
>>>> context. A politician who is willing to walk for 3500 kms meeting people on
>>>> the way definitely seemed interested in leadership I thought. So I
>>>> joined two friends, Tejaswini Madabhushi and Navika Harshe to walk the
>>>> Andhra Pradesh leg of the Yatra for four days. We had apprehensions about
>>>> our ability to walk and some concerns about crowds and safety but decided
>>>> to test ourselves. We also hoped to meet Rahul Gandhi but were not sure
>>>> about our prospects.
>>>> As Navika was a member of the Telangana Professional Congress,
>>>> arrangements were made for our accommodation and transport. We were joined
>>>> by another member of the Maharashtra Professional Congress and four of us
>>>> hung out together through all the four days. We also volunteered our
>>>> services to the media wing of the Yatra. Making notes from the press meets
>>>> and gathering the news reportage in Telugu about the Yatra were our task,
>>>> which did not take much of our time and seemed little in relation to the
>>>> experience that the Yatra promised to offer.
>>>> The three and a half days Yatra started at Halaharvi village but we
>>>> joined midway as our bus reached slightly later than the starting point. It
>>>> took us a while to figure out where we were and how to navigate the walk.
>>>> While Rahul Gandhi led the Yatra walking in the midst of a security ring, a
>>>> lot of Yatris walked ahead of him, including Seva Dal led by Digvijaya
>>>> Singh, Yogendra Yadav and some of the Bharat Yatris who were part of the
>>>> permanent contingent accompanying Rahul Gandhi. A lot of political leaders
>>>> either walked at their own pace and those who could not, followed in cars
>>>> and other vehicles. Villagers joined whenever they felt like, walked for a
>>>> few kilometres and returned.
>>>> The atmosphere was festive and hopeful. Throughout the route children,
>>>> women and men waited eagerly to get a glimpse of RG, waved and shouted
>>>> deliriously happily when they spotted him. Some tried to shower petals,
>>>> some offered aarti, some wanted to submit petitions and some held placards
>>>> about issues that concern them. There were dances, drums, children running
>>>> with flags and a few adventurous men rushing ahead on their motorcycles to
>>>> get a glimpse of RG. During the lunch break detailed presentations were
>>>> made by groups of people -Amaravati farmers, Polavaram displaced tribals,
>>>> Valmiki Boyas seeking ST status etc. When the Yatra resumed, some others
>>>> walked alongside -activists, victims, survivors and political
>>>> representatives from the Congress.
>>>> The Bharat Yatris came from very diverse backgrounds. Some are social
>>>> activists, some long standing Congress workers, some professionals all of
>>>> whom said they were inspired by the idea of walking India. It was such a
>>>> grand and irresistible idea that they put aside their professional life and
>>>> family life and decided to devote nearly six months of their life to this.
>>>> They believe it is a meditative exercise, the body pains being a routine
>>>> part. The Yatra would eventually change themselves and the political
>>>> landscape they believe. In fact, RG himself spoke of it as tapasya for the
>>>> country in a press meet during the AP Yatra. That it was beyond elections,
>>>> beyond party politics for him. It was something that he said that the
>>>> country required at this moment, to make each other understand what we are
>>>> about.
>>>> Learning from the first day’s experience, from the second we walked
>>>> ahead of the Yatra, behind the media van, as we did not have to push our
>>>> way through the throng of people at the back. As four women, conspicuously
>>>> middle class and urban, we got more attention than needed. A lot of people,
>>>> women and men, wanted selfies and shook hands but were not intrusive. By
>>>> the third day, we also became a familiar sight at the lunch and dinner
>>>> camps. People at lunch camp were curious to know why we joined and wanted
>>>> our impressions of the Yatra and the Congress Party, when they got to know
>>>> that two of us did not belong to the party.
>>>> As we walked we met friends and acquaintances who were in the Yatra
>>>> from the Congress party who in turn introduced us to their party
>>>> colleagues, big and small. The bigger leaders were delighted to see ‘people
>>>> like us’ walking and said they needed our support. The smaller leaders,
>>>> from NSUI, PCCs, Mahila Congress as well as contested candidates, Seva Dal
>>>> activists shared their concerns about the Yatra and the party. They were
>>>> delighted that their leader finally came down from Delhi to walk, they said
>>>> it has rejuvenated the party that almost got wiped out in Andhra Pradesh.
>>>> They spoke of the need for the AICC to connect more organically to the
>>>> local leadership, to front the local leaders in the Yatra when it went
>>>> through their constituencies. They were not happy about the last minute
>>>> information about the Yatra. They shared the need for the PCC president to
>>>> be proactive. They spoke of their dedication to the party despite its
>>>> electoral non-existence. They spoke of the need for active direction of the
>>>> leadership, at the state and national level, of more access to RG. They had
>>>> come down from far off Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Prakasam districts as well as
>>>> Nellore and Tirupathi to mobilise people and get the petitions written and
>>>> were eager to get the attention of RG. They expressed unhappiness about the
>>>> route, the stringent security ring, the Yatra’s inattention to the
>>>> organisational issues and electoral dynamics. While they were upbeat about
>>>> the Yatra, wanted a lot more and were unsure about its followup. From the
>>>> AICC side, we heard that the local PCC did not take any interest in the
>>>> Yatra. We noticed that the posters and ‘flexis’ were in English enroute the
>>>> remotest part of Andhra Pradesh, sometimes in Kannada too.
>>>> While we did want to meet RG we also wondered what we would talk to him
>>>> about as none of us came with a specific task in mind and were mostly
>>>> exhausted from walking in the harsh sun. We heard him respond to the press
>>>> people, explaining how Congress is different from the BJP and what the
>>>> Yatra has meant to him. He said that the core philosophy of the BJP was
>>>> upholding patriarchy, caste dominance and communal divide and the Congress
>>>> party stood against all this. The Yatra was to take this philosophy to all
>>>> corners of the country. He conveyed the same message in the two street
>>>> corner meetings that we attended. But when we tried to speak to the people
>>>> enroute the Yatra they all believed it was a Congress party Yatra and were
>>>> glad that the party of the Indiramma is back. The message against hate, we
>>>> thought, was not getting conveyed, either due to the lack of groundwork by
>>>> the local party, lack of coordination between the top rung and the bottom
>>>> rung or the unpreparedness of the local party wing to carry the message. We
>>>> decided that, if we got an opportunity, we would have to convey this gap in
>>>> messaging to him.
>>>> On the third day of the Yatra, when two of us met Mr. Jairam Ramesh, he
>>>> inquired if we had met RG and after ensuring that we had walked, instructed
>>>> someone that we be made to meet him. We then were interviewed by a member
>>>> of the core organising team of the Yatra about what we do and what we
>>>> wanted to talk about. During the afternoon walk we were let into the ring
>>>> of security and told that we needed to leave in two minutes. We introduced
>>>> ourselves in the midst of loud songs, drums and hundreds of people cheering
>>>> on both sides of the road and proceeded to talk about what we were
>>>> expecting the Congress party to do for women.
>>>> When my turn came, I spoke about why I joined the Yatra despite being
>>>> a critic of the Congress party throughout my life, said that as a women’s
>>>> rights activist I wanted the Yatra to succeed in conveying this message
>>>> against misogyny but that this message needed to be conveyed more
>>>> convincingly and effectively. This set off an engaging conversation that
>>>> lasted nearly twenty minutes, to the chagrin of the organisers. He asked us
>>>> what the core philosophy of the current regime is and before we could
>>>> respond, he said, it wasn’t caste domination or communal hatred but
>>>> misogyny. It was male dominance that formed the basis for the two other
>>>> planks of the BJP. Then we talked of the effective ways to fight this and
>>>> the role of the State and government in changing the culture of misogyny.
>>>> He drew attention to the contending religious traditions of the country,
>>>> one that endorsed and reinforced misogyny and the other, especially
>>>> traditions like Buddhism, that provided space for challenging misogyny. We
>>>> pointed to social democratic policies of the UPA and emphasised the need
>>>> for a clear ideological and political push against the culture of misogyny
>>>> in the country. We said that women needed welfare and social security
>>>> policies that would give them relative autonomy from the toxic communities
>>>> and families. He listened keenly and asked what we thought were the most
>>>> important measures. To our list of compulsory education till 10th standard,
>>>> social security, he added women’s reservations in the parliament. Not only
>>>> in the panchayats but they are necessary in the parliament too. While we
>>>> talked of how the Indian state’s support for women’s battles in the
>>>> families and communities has not been consistent, he provocatively argued
>>>> that the modern state is a Judeo-Christian idea and has not taken root in
>>>> the Indian soil. This led to the conversation about the need to root the
>>>> Indian Constitution’s notion of equality more deeply in societal culture
>>>> and how we could do this, especially at the current juncture. He agreed
>>>> with the need to have a clear and persistent push towards equality for
>>>> women by the Indian State and the government. We pointed to the Yatra and
>>>> said that there were hardly any women and he wanted to know whether we
>>>> could suggest any ways of increasing the presence of women in this ‘rough
>>>> space’. We said that a designated time for women to walk with him would
>>>> enable more women to join. He promptly called his core organising team
>>>> member and suggested to them to think about this idea. By this time it was
>>>> already fifteen minutes and the organisers were impatient as others were
>>>> waiting in queue. He nevertheless continued the conversation, this time
>>>> wanting to know my most radical idea about changing the current situation
>>>> of women. I said women required the ability to stay unmarried as much as
>>>> they wanted. Wasn’t I married, was it an arranged marriage that I did not
>>>> like? I said I was referring to the creation of conditions in which women
>>>> could stay unmarried and independent so that they would and could do what
>>>> they were capable of and wanted to do. He wanted to know who inspired me to
>>>> become what I am and I said it was the University of Hyderabad and the
>>>> ideas that I got exposed to that made me what I am. That public
>>>> universities are extremely important and need to be guarded. He responded
>>>> saying that it was precisely the reason that they were under attack.
>>>> In the twenty odd minutes of the walking conversation in the midst of
>>>> cotton farmers throwing themselves into the security ring, organisers
>>>> breathing down our neck and deafening sloganeering, we came away with a
>>>> feeling that he was deeply committed to the values of equality, diversity,
>>>> constitutionalism and modernity while being well informed about how they
>>>> challenged major received philosophical traditions of the Indian
>>>> subcontinent. The Yatra, for him, is a journey to learn but also to enable
>>>> a re-turn to these values among the populace. It was more than an electoral
>>>> and party building exercise. I came away feeling that this is the kind of
>>>> ideological clarity that a person leading this country requires at this
>>>> point.
>>>> Will he be able to succeed in convincing the country’s populace that he
>>>> can lead the country is the million dollar question that has no easy
>>>> answers. As the leader of the most important national party, he is expected
>>>> to lead the party in elections and build it into an efficient organisation
>>>> with effective leadership at multiple levels. His own familial legacy
>>>> and his past mistakes, failures and disappointments as the party president
>>>> continue to haunt him as the encrusted middle class that has got used
>>>> to eulogising success and having contempt for any sort of failure does not
>>>> easily forgive.
>>>> The Yatra definitely shows the enduring charisma of the Gandhis
>>>> especially Rahul Gandhi and if goes unhindered, would demonstrate his
>>>> stamina and perseverance. Would the Congress party rebuild itself
>>>> around the re-discovered charisma of Rahul Gandhi? The Yatra advocates
>>>> broad social democratic ideas that the UPA I advocated and addresses the
>>>> concerns of large sections of the economically and socially marginalised
>>>> peoples. Can the Congress party convert this into a credible electoral
>>>> agenda to challenge the current regime that has fine tuned itself into an
>>>> efficient electoral machine?
>>>> However, as a Yatri who walked 50 kms in the remote part of AP, in
>>>> sweltering heat, I came away with hope, which as Rebecca Solnit argues is
>>>> neither despair nor optimism, “when you take on hope, you take on its
>>>> opposites and opponents: despair, defeatism, cynicism and pessimism. And, I
>>>> would argue, optimism. What all these enemies of hope have in common is
>>>> confidence about what is going to happen, a false certainty that excuses
>>>> inaction. Whether you feel assured that everything is going to hell or
>>>> will all turn out fine, you are not impelled to act. All these
>>>> postures undermine participation in political life in ordinary times.. They
>>>> are generally both wrong in their analysis and damaging in their
>>>> consequences”.
>>>> The hope that I have is the accumulated memory of several struggles,
>>>> recent and far removed, changes that resulted due to these struggles, small
>>>> and big and the massive effort that is going into holding this Yatra. The
>>>> charisma and the message of the walking leader, the ability to pull off
>>>> such a Yatra, the reaching out to the numerous struggling groups, civil
>>>> society organisations and the local politicians perhaps would create
>>>> conditions for the rejuvenation of the Congress party that can articulate a
>>>> political vision that aligns with the social democratic, pluralist visions
>>>> that the Indian society is throwing up through its multiple movements.
>>>> *The author is a feminist from Hyderabad and a Senior Fellow at and
>>>> Coordinator of Anveshi Research Centre for Women’s Studies.
>>>> [Here're the two immediately preceding posts in this series, in reverse
>>>> chronological order.
>>>> I. <https://groups.google.com/g/greenyouth/c/c2pu1Ek3nAc>.
>>>> II. <https://groups.google.com/g/greenyouth/c/A0vl4rxkU74>.
>>>> And two video clips:
>>>> 1. Last day in Karnataka:  <
>>>> https://twitter.com/RahulGandhi/status/1584074285580455937>.
>>>> 2. Crossing the Tungabhadra River; <
>>>> https://twitter.com/mr_mayank/status/1584078361999314946>.]
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