YATRA, YATRIS, POLITICS, DEMOCRACY & INDIA
Politics in India is still represented by old world tools and methods, notwithstanding the digital penetration and the bandwidth it provides for day-to-day politicking and more so for the elections. It is still treated as flimsy tool when the going gets tough and the adversary uses the digital and conventional tools with elan. That Indian politics have not gone beyond the physical political stage to prove your worth and dissemination of a message which sticks and translates into influence and votes. What video can do in the social media age and how the images on the electronic media can make a difference we will leave for another day.
Yatras have marked the socio-religious landscape of India since immemorial; from shobha yatras to the journey of the Gods, from villages to the famous religious yatras, so to say, Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra. Suffice to say it is a part of our DNA, it connotes something worthwhile and of social value. It transcended the socio-religious landscape and become a potent political tool with the iconic Dandi March. Since then it has joined the political toolkit in a big for a variety of reasons. If we take out public meetings as the kernel of politicking and electioneering, then the yatras hold the pride of the place. If we add the road shows and processions to this genealogy of political tools the narrative is complete.
Yatras have put the strength of the political personality on display. The travel of many a leaders are managed with this purpose in mind. Many a leaders and political parties have gained ground or met their nemesis in this manner. Motorcade / cavalcade have often been used to give a modern look and comfort to the leader on the move. The leader jutting out the roof of the vehicle and addressing the masses, while on yatra is a sight which masses are familiar with and would have been associated with the one or the other at some point in life. More often that it converges in major public rallies. The politics takes twists and turns based this mode. Catching people’s imagination is the name of the game.
Politics and political democracy are consigned in it. Governance and all lofty goals have left the scene long time back. Politics is the purpose. L. K. Advani’s rath yatra takes the pride of place in the modern history of yatras. The yatra and action taken on it, the impact thereof has defined the Indian politics, even to this day. The current times seems to be the season of the political yatras, each trying to score a brownie point of the other. The Bharat Jodo Yatra is the most momentous by length of travel, duration and for the first time even yatris gaining prominence. Whether it achieves its stated or unstated purposes, only time will tell. What clear is that at least a biggish group of Indians have grit and human perseverance to face travails of this country across nearly 3500 kms and about 150 days.
YATRA A MODERN TOOL OF POLITICS AND MASS MOBILIZATION NEEDS TO REVISITED.