Poised to enter Karnataka, the Bharat Jodo Yatra rolls on with bands, and songs, and slogans, and dancing, and speeches, and press conferences — with the people coming out in larger and larger numbers to celebrate love over hate. And to demonstrate yet again that the people of India are not a commodity to be taken for granted, that their mood swings can prove debilitating for political arrogance, and that they are almost innocent in their emotions and embrace.

Rahul Gandhi, with every step he takes, is washing off the mud thrown at him by the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and trolls. Instead of the 'pappu' he was made out to be, he is impressing all who are participating in or closely watching the Bharat Jodo Yatra with his accessibility, his smile of humility, his insistence on remaining inclusive, and his sheer perseverance and determination. Despite facing the brunt of the attack over the past eight years, and living with the nightmare of two assassinations in his family, he has shown exemplary courage. He is the only politician today who has not backed off from his position, who has continued to say what he believes in with a consistency that is finally coming home to roost amongst the masses, and who has not shied away from repeating his convictions regardless of the trolling and the personal attack.

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He has been caged really by his own party, and leaders within. He has faced internal dissent, whispers from within the congress that echoed the larger attack on him, the pooh poohs from those who claim to be party advisors and top leaders, with the campaign within mirroring the attack from without. Rahul Gandhi, as sources said, has been trying to break free of the shackles, difficult really as while his disposition allowed him to confront the BJP directly in the worst of times, he could not take on his own party colleagues. Many of those seen as his friends left to join the BJP, and many others worked together to keep him out of centre stage as it were. Every time he tried, party leaders brought in the reluctant Sonia Gandhi or raised chants of Priyanka Gandhi even as the whispered attack on him increased in decibels within

The Bharat Jodo Yatra was thus, a brain wave. More so as a great deal of organisation has gone into it - from the route, to the stops, to the meetings with select people, to the speeches, and above all the publicity and the propaganda that has seen the emergence of what people are referring to as the Congress IT cell. Television channels have been made redundant by the storm of publicity on the internet, and the entire social media with the party actually controlling Twitter trends these days.

The result is the outpour – of people. The masses are like holy water, cleansing Rahul Gandhi of all adverse lables, and taking him up the pedestal rapidly. The focus on joblessness, price rise, love over hate all add to the atmospherics, but at the moment the journey through Tamil Nadu and Kerala has highlighted his acceptance in the masses. It is as if he has taken a dip or sprinkled himself with the holy water and emerged as a leader minus all the mud and the dirt that had been thrown at him. And which has not sullied his spirit or his mind set that once manifested itself in Parliament where after a strong speech, Rahul Gandhi went up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and gave him a big hug. He was taunted and pilloried for it, but clearly this is his nature as he does come across as a leader not bearing a grudge, or being influenced sufficiently to change his smile to a grimace.

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Besides, as clearly Rahul Gandhi and his advisors know, the best protection comes from the people. It is their embrace that makes it difficult for detractors to get close, let alone to rip you apart. There were no takers for the 'look at the price of his shirt' trolling, and it subsided in no time. In fact the mud balls that are being thrown at Rahul Gandhi are falling by the wayside with neither he, nor his party, showing any inclination to pick up the gauntlet of dirt. This is possible only because the people are not reacting any longer, as there is this growing admiration for the Congress leader's decision to jump into the field as a politician rarely seen these days. In any party, including the Congress.

Of course the ifs and the buts remain, but these will be answered in the course of the padyatra. For now, it is a great beginning and the love is starting to be felt.

It is not for a commentator to say whether the BJP is worried or upset, as that is to be seen with facts, but the ruling party is lying in wait for him in Karnataka.

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With Inputs from the Citizen Bureau.