Agrarian distress obviously was a factor that contributed to the unseating of BJP governments in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. And while those Congressmen (and women) who cannot look beyond the family for party leadership were singing Rahul Gandhi’s praises, many of them were hoping for signs of strategy formulation that would facilitate the farmer sending the party back to power a few months hence.
Alas, Rahul has displayed few signs of recent successes resulting in his acquiring the maturity required of an aspirant to the Prime Minister’s Office in South Block, for in a major address targeting rural discontent he could come up with nothing more “concrete” than writing off farm loans.
Something which could actually cause party strategists the sleepless nights he has promised Mr Narendra Modi. For in characteristic populist fashion he has done little to give rise to rural hopes for satisfactory slumber. He still has to grow up. As an attack on the NDA’s agricultural policies, Rahul’s speech was certainly hard-hitting, but the voter would prefer that having given the Congress what it had sought, it was time that it proved worthy of what had been granted. Few signs were displayed by Rahul of a game-plan to build upon the unexpected success. The three new chief ministers are now tasked with convincing the rural electorate that their backing will prove rewarding.
The woes of the farmland are as deep as they are lengthy, only a kid would accept that there were no farmers’ suicides during UPA rule. Raising Minimum Support Prices and writing off loans are, at best, treating the symptoms rather than attempting a cure. A 21st century equivalent of the Green Revolution is needed, not just to boost production but make agriculture financially profitable.
Rural folk have their aspirations too ~ laying out ‘charpoys’ for them might tickle the fancy of the urban elite but in reality it insults the simple folk who are also entitled to foam mattresses. Under NDA rule the extension of LPG-gas transformed millions of rural kitchens, so the Congress will have to come up with something equally durable to insulate the folk against the divisive, sectarian forces that will be unleashed by a wounded tigress.
Calling the ‘chowkidar’ a ‘chor’ hardly carried any weight in the apex court, the rural populace is not so naïve as to believe that their version of ‘achche din’ will arrive courtesy Mr Narendra Modi’s insomnia. Rahul, at some stage, must understand that ambition is made of stuff more stern than his “suit-boot sarkar” quip: indeed accept that jibe and quips are not enough. Nor does he project an impression of strength when he turns to big sister to help resolve a tussle for chief ministership. And it is a moot point if MK Stalin’s recommendation for the PMO will “match” the impact of the Mayawati Akhilesh “boycott”.