After his 56-day sabbatical from the hustle and bustle of Indian politics, a resurgent Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi attacked the Centre on the first day of the Post-Budget Parliament session. Of late, too many of the Gandhi scion’s public appearances have turned into farcical events. These events would soon filter out into the general political discourse that Rahul Gandhi, although well-meaning and earnest neither possesses the mettle nor intelligence to face off against the present Bharatiya Janata Party-led dispensation. The infamous interview with Arnab Goswami last year, for example, had truly dented his image in the run-up to last year’s general elections.
This time around, he presented his points with ease and much-required clarity, an achievement in itself. During his speech, the Congress Vice President said that the government was ignoring the “farming community and favouring the industrialists”, a ‘blunder’ which would harm the BJP in the future. The underlying point, which he incessantly made through his speech, was that the current dispensation was unable to understand the farmer’s plight. The Gandhi scion referred to the massive crop losses that numerous farmers have suffered during the recent spate of unseasonal rains to elucidate his point. Agriculture experts have said that 180 lakh hectare of farm land was damaged across 14 states.
The prime minister, however, refuted these claims and said that 106 lakh hectare had been destroyed. Unfortunately, the agricultural ministry soon said that prime minister was wrong and pegged the figure at 80 lakh. After reeling of these points, the Congress VP attacked the current dispensation’s lack of clarity on the matter, which in the process, he argued, has left the poor farmer at a loss. The lack of a counter narrative from the BJP-led Centre against opposition to the land acquisition bill and its alleged anti-farmer image could snowball into something much worse. By trying to bludgeon the bill through an ordinance, the BJP has not helped itself. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s absence from parliamentary proceedings on Monday further worsened the Centre’s position. Although Modi had exhorted his MPs to defend the land bill, it is clearly not enough. The current dispensation, led by Modi, must draw a clear line of attack.