Topmost police officers of Chhattisgarh monitored the Congress leaders as they rode bullock carts and drove tractors to lead a farmers’ agitation and enforce an economic blockade in the state on Saturday.
The Congress had deliberately chosen a day when Chief Minister Raman Singh’s showcase event Rajyotsava (state’s annual function) had its inauguration. Thousands of members, besides PCC chief, were arrested, bullocks seized and the party had managed to dent the Rajyotsava glitz.
The party that’s fast losing ground across the country still maintains the space and the spirit of opposition in Chhattisgarh. Misplaced, however, it is.
The Congress wants the Singh government to continue with complete paddy procurement and paddy bonus, essential parts of BJP’s manifesto that has now gathered the Centre’s disapproval. The Congress twists the knife by pointing that Centre’s refusal to even respond to Singh’s letters on bonus indicates that the state had lost its face and voice before the Narendra Modi government.
This stand might gain some political space, does not make a sound opposition. Chhattisgarh farmers need to be pulled out of the paddy cycle and moved towards cash crops. Heavily tilted towards paddy cultivation, Chhattisgarh’s agrarian economy is no longer sustainable. The Congress, which has big farmers in its ranks including state chief Bhupesh Baghel, now has a space for capturing rural areas by suggesting methods to overcome the present crisis. Instead of taking to the streets, it could quietly work with farmers and lead them to greener pasture.
The role of opposition is not just to register a loud presence, but also offering lasting solutions. That’s where the opposition seizes the initiative, quietly, and fortifies its base. The Chhattisgarh BJP, at present, seems unable to grapple with the new Centre. The Congress, unlike other states, carries little baggage of its first family here and comes across as a party on its own. Thrown open thus is an interesting battle. Its ability to transform the opposition space could define the Congress’ existence in Chhattisgarh.