Millennium Post

Congress's time to shine

Congresss time to shine

Criticism has been the cornerstone of the opposition – finding faults and placing them in public eye. Criticism is important and so is the opposition. While the incumbent performs the job s/he was elected for, the opposition offers constructive criticism over its execution, often contemplating whether it has been executed at all. Well, Congress managed to present a populist manifesto and emerge victorious, thanks to a well-informed people's mandate. As a precise opposition, it gave an apt retort to the ruling party's cumulative exploits – the failed promises and visible communal polarisation – which ultimately ushered an exit, making way for three new governments and a hope for better governance. Emerging from the shadows of the opposition, a desperate Congress wanting to seek control was made to walk a thin rope. Bold commitments for the state elections ensured that the mandate swayed in their favour, but at the cost of a race against time. It is noteworthy how their performance in these states will add tremendously to their showdown in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. On the other hand, falling short of the bold promises also carries the potential to sink their ship. People of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, in this regard, seem to have given Congress the opportunity to materialise on their criticism of BJP's regressive governance. The equation that Congress drew sitting in the opposition was quite simple — people want more policies and less politics. Indeed, Rahul Gandhi has set sail to deliver that and prove his understanding of the government's nexus with the people as well as other parties. Appointing Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath and Bhupesh Bhagel as chief ministers of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh respectively, Rahul Gandhi has laid down his first cards. Each with their own set of challenges and timeline will have a substantial bearing in the next four months when the general mandate goes on the floor. Their credibility will be put to test as all three CMs are entrusted with a mammoth task going beyond the regular. Time is ticking until the grand showdown and they have to deliver on electoral promises while presenting a policy-oriented government which is driven towards development. The question is no more of proving the gaps in the BJP, it is now about being directly assessed by the public over quality and reliability in governance. If anything, the public has shown that they are not falling for the showboating and they demand development and good governance. Congress has to directly uplift farm crisis, which involves waiving off farmers' loans and increasing the minimum support prices of crops to lift the burden off rural masses. Monthly allowance to the unemployed youth can be a start to fixing the massive unemployment that plagues these states. Congress will need to target the grassroots of persisting predicaments to fathom the ground realities and implement decisions which may ultimately prove distinctly beneficial.

Youth and farm distress were listed as the major reasons for the Raje government's fall in Rajasthan. BJP's promise of 15 lakh jobs per year was a false hope. Ashok Gehlot and his deputy, Sachin Pilot, have to turn the tables and capitalise on this false hope, assuring people of their chosen mandate. A state debt of Rs 3 lakh crore did not stop Gandhi from promising a monthly allowance of Rs 3,500 per month to the unemployed youth. Adding to the list of challenges is the reservation issue for the Gujjar community who are demanding a 5 per cent reservation in the special backward category against their current 1 per cent. Meanwhile, there's no easy formula to tame the Maoists, who in a 2013 bomb blast virtually wiped out Chhattisgarh's Congress leadership. Bhupesh Baghel has said that his government will "unravel the conspiracy". They have also put farm loan waiver as the foremost goal in their agenda upon taking office — which is expected, since it was the highlight of the Congress's manifesto. For Kamal Nath's government, it is not going to be easy waiving farmer loans, giving jobs to the unemployed and finding an instant solution to the problems being faced by small businessmen – the constituents that overwhelmingly supported the Congress. He has to keep up with Rahul Gandhi's commitments of building a defensive front alongside successful implementation of all counter-strategies to tackle rising adversities. Comprehensively, Congress within closed doors would have realised that the situation is severe but they have showcased their strength and now it is time to live up to the same. Plagued with the outcome of BJP's exploits, the Hindi Belt will welcome a revitalising wave. It is now for the population to test and decide whether BJP should continue or whether it is time that the Grand Old Party is brought to the helm once again!

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