November 24, 2013

CLOSE ENCOUNTER IN C'GARH - PART III


CHHATTISGARH POLLS 2013: OTHER ISSUES


In the early days of the campaign, the BJP appeared confident that anti-incumbency was not a matter and that it will ride to power for a consecutive third term. Luckily for the party, most of its ministers in the state have stayed away from controversies, unlike in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. Also, the welfare schemes undertaken by the Raman Singh government are expected to work in the saffron outfit's favor. However, with the battle heating up, it seems that winning again will be a uphill task. After all, if you have held the reins of government for such long, there will be people who will feel let down. While the BJP may find it difficult to convince the electorate, the dismal performance of the UPA II government at the Centre will prevent the INC from deriving full mileage of this situation. Price Rise and the innumerable corruption scandals that have rattled the Manmohan regime in its second term have tarnished the party's image in all the five poll bound states.


With Chhattisgarh seeing a direct fight between the BJP and the Congress and the General Elections just six months away, the top guns of the two parties have come to different parts of the state for canvassing. The BJP's PM nominee Narendra Modi addressed three rallies in the Bastar reigion which went to the polls on 12 November, a week ahead of the rest of the state. On Novemeber 15, he held four more rallies in Chhattisgarh and it was during one of these that he made the infamous 'Khooni Panja' remark which has irked the Election Commission. Meanwhile, the Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has attacked the state government for failing to alleviate poverty while speaking to the masses. Probably realizing that Rahul was making a mockery of himself and the Congress party in his speeches, the ailing Sonia Gandhi who is still the trump card of the INC too has jumped into the fray. She was present at rallies in several places including Bhilai, Ambikapur, Kota and Durgapur.

In a state that has been infested by Naxalites, it is not surprising that the it is a big issue on which the people are expected to vote. The Darbha massacre which left 28 men dead, most of them belonging to the Congress, has raised several question marks over the administrative lapses of the Raman Singh government. In fact, very few know that the attack on the Congress cavalcade was in response to the the success that the security forces have had against armed extremists. In the last elections in 2008, the BJP adopted a tough stance on the issue whereas the Opposition seemed to be going soft on them. In the past, the Centre and the state government have traded charges over the failure to curb Maoists in the state. The 18 seats located in the Naxal infected region that went to the elections in the first phase might decide the overall winner. In 2008, the BJP's excellent show in the state was primarily because it stole the march over its arch rival in this part of the state. Reports coming from here indicate that the ruling outfit will find it extremely difficult to even come close to its last performance. The Maoists have called for a boycott of the state elections.

While the fight might be between the two national parties, several smaller players are expected to play spoilsports in many constituencies. In case of a hung assembly, they are expected to bargain hard by acting as 'Kingmakers'. The BSP won two seats in 2008 with both of these coming from the Janjgir-Champa region. This time again the party is hopeful of a good show from here. Several non-Congress and non-BJP parties have come together to form the 'Samyukta Morcha' ahead of the elections, which could be a precursor to the formation of a Third Front at the Centre. The constituents of this grand alliance include the CPI, the CPI(M), the JD(U), the Gondwana Ganatantra Party (GPP), the Loktantrik Samajwadi Party (LSP), the National People's Party (NPP), the Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Morcha (CSM) and the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (CMM). The GPP is active in the Gondi speaking regions of the state. The CSM was floated the late Tarachand Sahu and is strong in Durg and Rajnandgaon.

For more on Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections 2013, click here (Link)