Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was seeing dancing with
Telangana women during Bathukamma festivities in Gollapalli in course of the
party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra. Gandhi, 52, former President of the Indian National
Congress (INC) and a member of Parliament representing Kerala’s Wayanad, is walking
from Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari in southern India to Jammu and Kashmir, India’s
northernmost region.

The Bharat Jodo Yatra began on September 7 and is
expected to go on for 150 days. The stated objective of the Bharat Jodo Yatra
is to bring the people of India together against the untruth and hate spread
across the country, the Congress says. Rahul Gandhi has reiterated that the
Bharat Jodo Yatra is not an electoral device geared at the 2024 elections.

The Bharat Jodo Yatra has enabled a reorientation of
Rahul Gandhi in the public imagination, albeit marginally. Rahul, the
Nehru-Gandhi family scion, has often been described as politically
inarticulate. His electoral failures have helped cement this image. Gandhi’s
performance in the political theatre of Bharat Jodo Yatra is aimed at recasting
his image. For now, the focus has broadly been on his fitness.

Before he was seen dancing with women celebrating
Bathukamma, a regional flower festival, Gandhi was seen sprinting racing party
leaders during the yatra.

In Telangana, Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to meet
intellectuals, community leaders and people from the world of business and
entertainment. He is also likely to visit places of worship.

For over a decade now, Gandhi has been touted by the
Congress as a young leader. The messaging, however, has earned quips from the
BJP and others opposed to the Congress who have found it funny for a leader
well into his 40s and then past 50 being defined as a representative of the
country’s youth in a nation where the average age is below 35. The intricacies
of Indian politics, however, tell a different story.

In the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul Gandhi dons a white t-shirt
and seems to have been growing his salt-and-pepper, more salt and less pepper, beard
casting an almost saintly image for himself. His note, however, has not tempered.
“BJP is weakening the country by making people fight with each other. It has
implemented policies like demonetisation and GST which have hurt poor people,
farmers, labourers and small traders,” Gandhi has maintained.

In Telangana, Gandhi has also attacked K Chandrasekhar
Rao’s TRS, which recently recast itself into a national party named BRS (Bharat
Rashtra Samiti). “What BJP is doing in Delhi, TRS is doing in Telangana. I
would like to say clearly here that, BJP and TRS are the same. They are two
parts of the same coin. They work in tandem.”