The Bharat Jodo Yatra has given something to look forward to the citizens of Uttar Pradesh (UP). Despite a daily battle over sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities and unemployment, the yatra hosted by the Congress Party has added a little excitement to the mostly drab life of ordinary citizens.

The yatra has aroused ideas of resistance and rebellion amongst the restless who are thrilled at the thought of being politically active on the ground. Flagged off on September 7 in the south, the yatra is expected to pass through UP towards the end of the month. On the way, the yatra will be joined by numerous politicians, social activists, artists and anyone else interested in a change in the way politics is practised today.

After its arrival in Dausa and Alwar in Rajasthan, the yatra is expected to pause in Bulandshahr, UP only for about 48 hours. "The Congress still enjoys tremendous goodwill in UP. All that Congress supporters here need is a plan of action at the grassroots. Congress supporters feel abandoned today by the party leadership centralised in Delhi," Shanti Kumar (name changed on request), a school teacher told The Citizen.

Considering how weak the Congress is in UP today, many feel that the yatra should have visited many more people in a few more districts. This gesture would have surely made the old guard happy and inspired youngsters to support the yatra's purpose of strengthening unity in the country in large numbers.

Some other well-wishers of the Congress wonder why the yatra has been timed to coincide with state elections to be held in Gujarat? The Congress leadership should be in Gujarat trying to win elections in the state, should it not? "It is surprising that the yatra that will pass through 12 states is not even touching Gujarat," wondered a Congressman in Lucknow.

Other supporters are concerned at the continuous criticism of the yatra by Congress Party opponents. A virtual army of hate mongers is working overtime to influence people against the yatra. The hope is that the vicious attack on the yatra will not incite mobs in UP to indulge in violence against it.

The Congress Party in UP

It is sad that the Congress Party has been electorally wiped out from UP today. Motilal Nehru was the first Congress member of the Legislative Council in 1909. Uttar Pradesh has given nine Prime Ministers to the country: Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Chaudhary Charan Singh, Rajiv Gandhi, VP Singh, Chandrashekhar, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi. Narendra Modi, who hails from Gujarat, chose to contest the parliamentary elections from Varanasi, one of the oldest cities in the state.

Corruption Continues

Politicians promise to rid corruption from public life but once voted to power most of them turn a blind eye to incidents of corruption and the harassment of ordinary citizens.

Most of those taken to task for illegal constructions like the Levana Hotel in the heart of Hazratganj, Lucknow's favourite shopping street are bureaucrats and engineers.

However, nothing is allowed without the will of political bosses. In the tragic case of the massive fire that broke out in the Levana Hotel recently taking the life of four people and injuring about a dozen others, it was found that the design of the hotel was rejected in 2002. Yet the hotel was built, surely with the knowledge of Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) officials, who are mostly incapable of taking any decision without the consent of their political boss.

However, politicians in power are rarely taken to task for indulging in wrong doings in public life. Instead honest and upright bureaucrats are often made to pay for the sins committed by their political masters.

Siddique Kappan

The prolonged imprisonment of journalist Siddique Kappan in UP was unfortunate.

The collective guilt of the state was somewhat reduced after the Supreme Court questioned the bail-denying feature of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and concluded that there was no reason for keeping Kappan in custody.

Kappan was arrested in October 2020 while he was on his way to Hathras, where a Dalit girl had been gang-raped and murdered. He was charged by the police for plotting to communalise the area by hurting religious feelings. To keep him in prison for a long time, the police accused him of raising funds to indulge in terrorist activities.

Kappan was recently granted bail by the Supreme Court. A court in Lucknow issued the release order of Kappan after asking how raising one's voice in support of justice for a victim amounts to a crime? Thus bringing to end the persecution by the police of a citizen who spent two years of his life in jail for performing his job as a journalist.

An Interesting Poster

Despite all the political troubles faced by the Samajwadi Party (SP), the atmosphere at the headquarters of the party remains cheerful. Today, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is constantly twitter-targeted by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati who finds Akhilesh 'childish'.

Mayawati tweeted that Akhilesh 'hides his anti-people shortcomings by diverting the attention of the people with unrestrained and childish rhetoric against others…' Akhilesh Yadav had recently offered deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya the position of Chief Minister if he joined the SP with 100 legislatures.

Charred to the core of his soul, Maurya replied that 100 SP legislatures are ready to join the ruling party and that Akhilesh should concentrate on minding the fate of his own party.

Maurya further mocked the SP that the party will not manage to open an account in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The Modi wave in UP and in the country is stronger than ever, added Maurya.

However, none of the insults hurled at the SP seems to stick. Walk past the SP office today and notice a large banner promising the end of the ruling party if UP and Bihar put up a united front.

The banner displays smiling photos of Akhilesh Yadav and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The writing on the banner says: UP+Bihar = Gai Modi Sarkar

The optimism oozing forth from the banner also brings to mind the age old saying that if wishes were horses, beggars would ride, what?