After being taunted by opponents that it is time for him to meet them on the ground, ODM leader Raila Odinga has literally hit the ground running pulling in the wake thousands of people to his meetings.
In a country-wide tour that began less than three weeks ago Kenyans are seeing a Raila of yore who pulled thousands upon thousands of people who affectionately call him “Baba” (father) wherever he goes – confounding friends and foes.
And in images only seen during the campaigns for the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) that routed Kanu out of power in the 2002 general elections, Raila is being accompanied by leading politicians from Mt Kenya region.
From Nairobi’s Githurai to Nyahururu to Eldoret and most recently Isiolo, Raila has muscled such huge crowds that have massively energized his supporters and triggered politicians to seriously consider their options.
Some like Tharaka Nithi governor Muthomi Njuki have abandoned Deputy President William Ruto’s tanga tanga side and joined the handshake team of Raila and President Uhuru or what is popularly known as “kieleweke.”
Many MPs from Mt Kenya region are said to be lining up to join the Handshake Team while others like Laikipia Woman Rep Cate Waruguru resulted to social media to ask her supporters which team she should join even though she had earlier said he had joined UDA.
This was a day after Raila pulled a massive crowd in Nyahururu town that stunned even his harshest critics as the 2022 presidential election took shape with the ODM leader eating into the ground previously considered Ruto’s.
Others like Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru are yet to formally join UDA weeks after she claimed that her followers in Kirinyaga had asked her to join the party associated with DP Ruto – underlining how confusing the obtaining political climate has become in the aftermath of Raila’s political forays the restless region.
Ruto allied MPs from Mt Kenya led by Mathira legislator Rigathi Gachagua had claimed that it was impossible to sell Raila in Mt Kenya region but Raila’s recent tours of the region has debunked that myth and exposing tanga tanga as having built a campaign strategy on quick sand.
While Ruto has been touring the country attacking what he calls “dynasties” and promoting his hustler narrative, Raila has been talking about concrete steps on how to rebuild the economic and maintain the current tempo of infrastructural development.
He has been quoting the Vision 2030 which was developed under the Kibaki regime and which is credited to the current economic growth in county – which he says if properly implemented will ensure the economy grows and creates the much needed employment.
His declaration that his regime would give jobless Kenyans a token of Sh 6,000 appears to have countered the hustler narrative and introduced another line of political conversations.
Even though he is yet to formally announce his presidential bid, Raila has laid down his marker and as he continues to rejuvenate his traditional support bases and carves new ones especially in Mt Kenya, he is increasingly looking like the man to beat in 2022.