Remember how the Congress Party along with the entire anti-BJP ecosystem had gone hammer and tongs against the Maharashtra government when a farmers’ rally was taken out and headed to Mumbai? The party then went into sudden hibernation after the situation was diffused. Devendra Fadnavis showed great maturity and held talks with farmers’ representatives who had marched from Nashik to Mumbai under the All India Kisan Sabha banner, and also arranged special trains to send the 25,000 odd farmers back to their homes. After the protest, it seems that the government and the farmer organizations are now on the same page.
However, the fact that Devendra Fadnavis single-handedly solved this deadlock, came more as a shock to the Congress and its support system. Just before the 2019 elections, the ailing Congress Party seems to be handicapped as the party can no longer pretend to be a “friend” of the farmers. In fact, the Congress has shown its true colors and has gone after the farmers who participated in the rally.
The leader of the opposition and former Maharashtra agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil has called the rally “state sponsored”. According to him, there was apparently an understanding between the Fadnavis government and the protesting farmers, with the aim of depriving the Congress Party and the NCP from taking political credit for farmers’ welfare.
His statement reeks of the tawdry and distasteful brand of politics pursued by the Congress. In his angst, caused by loss of a political weapon, the Congress leader ended up admitting that the farmers’ issue is not important for his party. It is just an electoral issue for the Congress, and all they are genuinely interested in doing is taking political credit. The Congress is not happy that the farmers’ problems are finally close to being solved, but are depressed that they might end up losing a political battle.
Elections are a matter of course in a democratic setup and must not be treated as the ultimate end by political parties. It is unfortunate that the Congress Party has committed the sin of belittling farmers and using them as pawns for winning elections. The salvo fired by Vikhhe-Patil shows how low the Congress Party has stooped in order to save its face in the upcoming elections. The Congress was shedding crocodile tears when the rally was carried out by the farmers, but once Devendra Fadnavis solved the issue, they went on to demonize the same farmers.
The grand alliance proposed by the Congress Party several times after the 2014 elections. There are already innumerable warring factions in the yet-to-be grand alliance, and the current exchange of fire between the Congress Party and the CPM has only added to the list. Vikhe-Patil’s statement comes at a time when the CPM’s peasants wing the AIKS was at the forefront of the farmers’ protests. It seems that the Congress and the CPM are unable to join forces. The CPM in its draft political resolution in February had ruled out any understanding or electoral alliance with the Congress to defeat the BJP.
Moreover, it was again reiterated by a recent editorial in the CPM journal, People’s Democracy, which stated that the Congress Party won’t succeed in another UPA experiment. It further stated that regional parties like the BJD, the TRS and the TDP won’t be ready to accept the Congress as an alliance partner. While the editorial praised the SP-BSP alliance during the by-polls, it virtually ruled out any need of the Congress Party in the grand alliance. The tenor of the editorial hints that the left and other regional factions might eventually rule out the inclusion of the Congress itself in the grand alliance. It is likely that the Congress will be left to fend for itself. Infighting makes the creation and survival of a holistic anti-BJP alliance highly improbable, and even if it comes into existence, the Congress Party might not be a part of the alliance. The joke will be on the Congress Party, which had invited the prospective constituents of the alliance to a dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi.
But for now we must give it to the man of the moment, the charismatic Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis who didn’t just solve a major crisis but also made the Congress party so desperate that they were forced to show their true anti-farmer self.
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