The Congress government had hoped to reap a rich harvest of its higher paddy procurement price. Its poll strategy revolved around this and its rural welfare schemes. And, this is where it bit the dust. Paddy support price and bonus are considered the bedrock of politics in Chhattisgarh as the fertile central plains account for 64 of the 90 assembly seats. In 2018, Congress had propped it up as its main poll plank, promising Rs 2,500 per quintal, and storming to power.
The irony is that the Baghel government kept its promise - it just couldn't keep up with BJP as it set the narrative. The Baghel government supplemented the Centre's MSP with an agriculture input subsidy and paid Rs 2,500 per quintal to more than 24 lakh farmers. In an interview, Baghel had told TOI: "Our focus is on farmers because over 60% of the population depends on agriculture. Our state serves as a model for rejuvenating farming, and we hope this approach inspires other states to work for farmers."
This time, the Baghel government pledged Rs 3,200 per quintal, which was Rs 100 more than what BJP promised in its manifesto. But PM Modi, in rally after rally, promised that "every gain produced by farmers" would be purchased under MSP. The BJP said it would procure 21 quintals per acre - 1 quintal more than what the Congress promised. It negated the higher price offered by Congress.
Slowly, a new wind had begun blowing through the paddy fields, but Congress failed to see it.