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This is what paved the way for this Bharat Jodo Yatra detour

When the Congress released its list of star campaigners for the Gujarat polls on December 1 and 5, Rahul Gandhi’s name appeared on it. Nothing new as his name was also on the list of campaigners for Himachal Pradesh.

The only difference is that unlike Himachal, Rahul will campaign in Gujarat. So he takes a diversion from the Bharat Jodo Yatra, which was supposed to enter Madhya Pradesh around Nov. 21, and he will campaign in the Saurashtra region around Nov. 22. Saurashtra is a region where the Congress has done well in the previous Gujarat polls and is considered an area where it still has a presence.

But why did Rahul Gandhi change his mind about campaigning in the state while staying away from election campaigns in Himachal Pradesh?

First, with the appeal of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the former congress chief and his advisers believe he can use it to improve his party’s performance. In the 2017 polls, Rahul’s yatra with Hardik Patel (who is now a member of the BJP), Alpesh Thakor (who is also running on a BJP ticket) and Jignesh Mevani had woven a good record for the Congress when it looked close to victory . The party hopes that the same Rahul, minus the trip but on a Bharat Jodo Yatra, can help the Congress.

Secondly, as the Aam Aadmi party, according to state congress leaders, is losing steam, they feel that Rahul Gandhi can take the risk of taking it on. The biggest threat to the Congress comes from AAP and the party realizes that it is now or never and therefore only Rahul can fight the Aam Aadmi Party.

Importantly, this will be the first election the Gujarat Congress will see without Ahmed Patel. The previous state polls were conducted immediately after a fantastic Rajya Sabha seat victory by Patel, outsmarting the BJP. The Congress was at a high stage at the time and benefited from its victory. But this time, Ahmed Patel is not around after he passed away due to Covid complications. Congress lacks AP’s shrewd strategies, as he was dubbed. Ashok Gehlot’s grip on land politics naturally gives some hope as he monitors the polls.

Congress does not want to lose its tribal and rural base in Gujarat and so it does not want to take any chances, and Rahul Gandhi has been asked to intervene.

One of the main reasons why Rahul has changed his mind is that Gujarat is identified with the prime minister as his home state. And as the Congress MP has made the attack on Narendra Modi the mainstay of his politics, it was felt that it would send the wrong political message if he did not show up here.

Often accused of opting for a safe fight, Rahul and his advisers believed that a detour from the yatra to campaign in the BJP stronghold would send the message that he is open to confronting the prime minister. But this is a double-edged sword as it also increases the pressure on Rahul Gandhi to show that he can ensure a good performance for his party and stop the growth of AAP.

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