Dharmendra Jore: Can the opposition in Maha reinvent itself?

Published: Dec 11, 2017, 07:31 IST | Dharmendra Jore

Rahul Gandhi spurs the Congress to up the ante in a previously unseen manner; CM accepts challenge

This winter promises a formidable opposition to the BJP. Gujarat is seeing this, thanks to a reinvented Rahul Gandhi. With the remaining phase of polling to go, fingers are crossed before the Gujarat mandate is declared on December 18. The result in Narendra Modi's Gujarat -whatever it is - should impact neighbouring Maharashtra in a long run.
The notional part of the result – the Congress strongly believes that it will topple the BJP in the PM's backyard - has fuelled aspiration of Gandhi's followers, who have upped the ante in an unforeseen manner.'

Like the Congress, other parties in the opposition, such as the Nationalist Congress Party too have got into a huddle to turn the heat on Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in his home turf Nagpur, where the winter session of the legislature starts from Monday. The opposition has assured a stormy session. The Congress has drawn up a long list of issues to corner the Fadnavis government. Senior NCP leaders who haven't been able to find a foothold in agrarian crisis-affected Vidarbha, have been walking in a long march of 160km from the farm suicide belt of Yavatmal district. The two Congress will get together on December 12 in a massive protest march to Vidhan Bhavan and promise to rock the BJP's boat in the legislature. NCP boss Sharad Pawar will lead the agitation. This is something very significant as far as the efforts of a much-needed unity of opposition are concerned.

Issues galore
The opposition will have its hands full because the past six months have exposed many chinks in the BJP government. The farm loan waiver didn't really take off and failed to meet the deadline to make farmers debt-free, primarily because of man-made glitches in the Information Technology Department.
The CM's ambitious project, Samriddhi Corridor (super communications highway between Mumbai and Nagpur), has been embroiled in a controversy that the opposition will debate on. The cotton farmers are further distressed this season because of a failed crop. The government's publicity blitzkrieg to impress voters, that the people have benefitted from its various welfare schemes, is also expected to get criticised.

Unlike previous sessions in which the opposition left no mark despite having so much to embarrass BJP, Nagpur should hold the Congress-NCP in good stead, not because of whatever is being said and done at the government level, but because the people need to know a political alternative that could get their problems resolved. So far, the opposition has failed the people. It is time they scored some brownie points.

Patole rap
The resignation of Lok Sabha MP, Nana Patole, has sent a wave of happiness in the opposition ranks, leaving BJP somewhat shaky. The Congress-NCP are out to make Patole a hero for showing courage to speak against Modi and quitting the party. Patole is scheduled to share the dais with Gandhi in Gujarat for the second phase campaigning, and return to Maharashtra to address the Nagpur protest march. Patole has made his intentions very clear. In his list of enemies, Fadnavis is second after Modi. The outgoing MP has warned Fadnavis against getting personal or else face his wrath. Fadnavis hasn't bothered to respond to Patole. Instead, say people close to the CM, that Patole will get a fitting response in the Lok Sabha by-poll, provided the estranged leader contests against the BJP.

Come on, says CM
If CM is to be believed then the opposition wouldn't have much opportunity to corner him, albeit stall the proceedings and cry foul. Fadnavis has attempted to clear the air over the loan waiver. A day before he came out with information that most of the money was deposited in the farmers' accounts. "When there is nothing concrete to say, they come up with wild allegations. I appeal to the opposition to debate. I'm ready with an answer. I cannot help if they disrupt both houses and then say we don't allow them to speak," Fadnavis said on Sunday. Before the start of the session, Fadnavis has created a doubt in people's minds by winning cross votes from Congress-NCP for his Legislative Council candidate Prasad Lad. The thought that some opposition leaders are hand-in-glove with the BJP would continue to linger in the wake of Lad's victory. Chances of Shiv Sena playing truant will always be there, but then that isn't the a big concern for CM, who gets the Sena chief to play along when others sing a different tune.

Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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