The yatra concluded in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday

Will Sudheerans Janaraksha yatra prove to be his Raksha kavacham or Achilles heel
news Tuesday, February 09, 2016 - 22:37

The Janaraksha yatra led by KPCC chief VM Sudheeran came to a close at the Shangumugham beach in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday evening, but the response to it has been underwhelming to say the least.

The yatra which began on January 4 from Kasaragod has been reportedly a poor crowd-puller in almost all districts. Though he has not been haggling loudly, the yatra was clearly seen as Sudheeran’s chance to portray himself as the popular face and chief ministerial candidate in the upcoming Assembly elections in April/May.

The presence of AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi at the valedictory venue seems to have marginally helped Sudheeran’s cause by adding a few more hundreds to the dwindling crowd presence at the rally.

The Congress party however did not take any chances and also arranged for a music fest led by MG Sreekumar too at the venue to bring in the numbers.

Talk about populist measures!

But will it help in the run-up to the elections? Did the yatra benefit the party or at least Sudheeran himself?

Political analyst Advocate A. Jayashankar is quick to dump all yatras undertaken by various political outfits in the state as mass flops with none having made a gainful point whatsoever.

“There was literally a competition of sorts among yatras this time. The sheer number of them is what contributed to their ineffectiveness. At least Vellapally Natesan’s yatra garnered some sort of publicity albeit negative due to the controversies supplementing his personality, the overall negative reporting by the media and probably because it was the first one. In a way, it helped him. None of the others made any gains with Sudheeran’s being the worst show of all,” states Jayashankar.

Veteran journalist and political analyst BRP Bhaskar too endorses Jayashankar’s views: “I personally feel that none of the yatras did any good to the respective political parties.  None of them any longer use these yatras to politically educate the people or to seek political redress of social issues. For them, these are just platforms to level allegations and counter-allegations.”

“While the BJP and LDF stress on the the UDF role in the bar bribery and solar scams, Sudheeran keeps harping on Pinarayi’s connection with the Lavelin case. This will not bring in the votes or contribute to any sort of electoral gains. The only thing a yatra does now is maybe give the otherwise inactive local cadres of the party something to indulge in. The party in itself does not stand to benefit in the least," reiterates Bhaskar.

There are three main reasons which –according to Jayashankar- contributed to the failure of Sudheeran’s yatra :

Firstly, both the A and I factions of the Congress party did not cooperate with the yatra due to factional conflicts. So it became a lopsided one-man show.

Secondly, it was Sudheeran who had a couple of years ago undertaken a yatra to shut down all bars in the state. With the bar bribery scam raising its hooded sheath, Sudheeran was left red-faced not being able to explain the bar bribery scam away.

Thirdly, Sudheeran who has always enjoyed a clean political image never took up a clear stance in the light of solar accused Saritha S Nair’s allegations against his own party leaders. He could not justify the alleged misdemeanors of his party-colleagues.

Jayshankar goes on to observe that if Sudheeeran had been a Chennithala or a K Muraleedharan who reportedly justifies corruption, maybe the public would at least have heard him out. But unfortunately he didn’t do that either, says Jayshankar

Recalling the 2001 Congress yatra which subsequently gifted the UDF a historic win of 99 seats  in the 2001 assembly elections, Jayashankar adds: “In 2006, Pinarayi Vijayan and K Muraleedharan had conducted Kerala yatras which did create a public wave of support for their parties. Chandy’s 2011 yatra however fizzled out and the same goes for all the yatras undertaken this year.”