Mizoram and Chhattisgarh may vote for peace and development. Elections to all the 40 Vidhan Sabha seats in Mizoram and 20 out of 90 in Chhattisgarh are scheduled to be held on November 7. During the entire election campaigns for this phase of election, violence dominated the minds of electorates – ethnic violence in Manipur causing great concern in Mizoram, and Naxal violence in Chhattisgarh. People in general seemed keen to have peace and development.
What is the meaning of peace and development in Mizoram and Chhattisgarh? It is a very big debatable question among academicians and analysts who may greatly differ. However, for common electorate in these two states these are simple things. They perceive BJP as harbinger of conflicts and violence, and hence the party may be at receiving end.
Manipur violence since May this year has made Mizoram tense, and elevated threat of Naxal violence in Chhattisgarh since the biggest attack by Maoist in April has made the people of the region near tri-junction of Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Odisha restless. Manipur violence continued during the election campaign and the Naxals hacked a BJP political leader when he was campaigning for the party. In Manipur, the state is being ruled by the BJP and hence the party is considered responsible for the continued violence. In Chhattisgarh, opposition Congress is ruling party, but people known that entire blame cannot be shifted to the state leadership since the operation against Naxals are coordinated by the Centre led by BJP, and the officials have been expressing their inability on account of their lacking even proper technology to detect IEDs while Naxals have been avoiding direct combat.
Mizoram is being ruled by NDA, and is led by MNF. The violence in Manipur had impacted the voters’ mood to such an extent that MNF leader and CM Zoramthanga announced on October 23 that he would not share stage with PM Narendra Modi when he would visit to campaign for BJP. It finally resulted in disintegration of NDA. MNF finally contesting all the 40 seats in the states while the BJP is contesting 23 seats.
Congress is the chief opposition in Mizoram, which may get larger support from the people of the state, since MNF has lost its charm among the electorate since the party had allied with the BJP, which they perceived harbinger of conflict and violence in Manipur, that is also impacting the fate of Mizoram people since they have relations with them many of whom have come there for shelter for their lives. ZPM has lately been emerging as alternate to MNF. ZPM has already become a significant player. Though Mizoram may be voting against the BJP, the triangular contest among MNF, Congress, and ZPM candidates, may necessitate post-poll political realignment.
In Chhattisgarh, BJP has the largest share of candidates with criminal backgrounds who are contesting the election. Out of all candidates 26 disclosed a criminal cases on them. About 25 per cent of BJP contestants have criminal records. This fact goes against the BJP, however, the party is trying its best to portray the Congress as most corrupt. Only a few days ago, Bhupesh Baghel was brought under ED scanner claiming that he was paid Rs508 crore by illegal Mahadev betting app.
Blame game on Naxal violence in Chhattisgarh is having great impact on electorates’ mood, apart from the BJP’s campaigns aiming at instilling a fear of anti-Hindu threat among the Hindu voters if Congress is elected. Even PM Narendra Modi tried to drive home in the minds of the voters that Congress has been outsourcing their policies to Naxals, and the party is against the Sanatana Dharma. The recent killing of a BJP leader by Naxals while campaigning for a party candidate, has added a new sensation among the voters.
However, the violence is being seen as BJP vs Naxals, as at one time it was seen as Congress vs Naxals when almost entire Congress leadership in the state were killed in a Naxali attack in 2013. At that time BJP’s Raman Singh was chief minister of the state, who again won the election in 2013, which was almost walkover chiefly because of cleansing of the Congress leadership. However, in 2018 election BJP lost, and Congress came to power and Bhupesh Baghel came to power.
Bhupesh Baghel has been popular chief minister of the state, the last five years of his rule is marked by comparative peace and development in the state. His pro-poor and pro-farmer policies have been attracting the voters. Majority of general voters seem to be in favour of peace and development, and for them Congress has emerged as a symbol for it.
BJP is of course the chief opposition in the state, but the party campaigns have been marked by a high level of infighting. Even though the party hopes that it can derive the benefit of anti-incumbency and division of anti-BJP votes. JCC, BSP+GGP, AAP, CPI+CPI(M) etc are contesting in large number of seats, and they have also considerable support base in several constituencies.
At the end of election campaign for the first phase of election, Chhattisgarh seems to be voting for peace and development, and the Congress could be the major beneficiary to the frustration of the BJP. (IPA Service)