In six days, 20 constituencies in Chhattisgarh will vote. However, the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP are yet to publish their election manifestos.
Even as senior Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, have announced their poll promises — loan waiver for farmers, implementation of caste survey, hike in paddy-procurement price and a steep cut in LPG cylinder prices — the BJP leaders on the ground are still in a dilemma over what to promise and how to go about the election campaign.
A trip through seven assembly seats across Bastar division, which will vote in the first phase, reveals that BJP candidates and senior leaders are struggling in the campaign, while Congress leaders are going all guns blazing with farmer issues and announcement of various financial assistance schemes.
The senior BJP leaders of the Chhattisgarh state unit are now counting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to the state this poll season. PM Modi is scheduled to hold an election rally on November 2 in Kanker, said sources in the BJP.
“We will have our manifesto soon. It is going to be special and full of surprises. Our fight in Chhattisgarh is against corruption. There are at least half-a-dozen scams going on here. Senior bureaucrats and cabinet ministers are under the scanner for their alleged involvement in various scams, including paddy procurement, excise and mining scams,” said a senior BJP leader.
From scarcity of funds to lack of direction, BJP leaders and candidates on the ground are facing various challenges. The tribal candidates in Bastar are facing a financial crunch too, News18 has learnt. The state election is being fought in the name of PM Modi and the party, like in other states, has not announced a chief ministerial face.
“Our party fought faceless elections in Bengal and in Karnataka. In both states, we lost. People want to know who they are voting for. They want to know about the CM face. But we do not have an answer, and we always seek votes in the name of Modi-ji. This works for general elections but for the state elections, we need to know the leader and people need to know the projected CM. It is becoming increasingly difficult for us to convince people,” said another senior leader from the Bastar region.
“The Congress is yet to come up with the manifesto. But their leaders have announced so many schemes, including loan waivers. They have successfully created a ground swell in favour of their party, and we are still lagging on that front,” he added.
According to a survey by the state government, Chhattisgarh has around 41 per cent OBC population. Gandhi announced a caste survey if his party is voted to power. According to the BJP leaders, the promise of carrying out a caste survey may break the consolidated Hindu votes and the OBC population that traditionally votes for BJP can be divided.
With inputs from News18