For Raman Singh, focus is on development and achievements
RAJNANDGAON: This small town, often referred to as the biggest village in Chhattisgarh, is suddenly drawing everyone’s attention. Ever since the chawal wale baba, Raman Singh, decided to contest the Assembly elections from here, people’s hopes have been raised. For, the Chief Minister has brought about a change in his hometown Kawardha and adjoining Dongargaon, from where he won the elections earlier.
Dr. Singh, who was elected to the Lok Sabha on BJP ticket from Rajnandgaon in 1999, quit the seat after having been asked by the party to stay put in Chhattisgarh before the 2003 Assembly elections.
It is the popularity of the Rs. 3 a kg rice for below the poverty line (BPL) families that is being touted as one of the main achievements of the Raman Singh government. Its popularity graph went further up after the Bharatiya Janata Party announced in its election manifesto that rice would be sold at Re.1 a kg under the Antyodaya scheme and at Rs. 2 for others. This offer was in response to the Congress announcement that rice would be sold at Rs. 2 per kg for the BPL. It was after the BJP announcement of Re.1 a kg rice that Dr. Singh has been fondly called chawal wale baba.
In his campaign, Dr. Singh has been avoiding emotional and controversial issues such as Hindutva, conversions and Ram temple. His focus is totally on development and achievements, and promises of a better life for the people. Even his campaigners are taking care to project Dr. Singh more than the national leaders of the BJP who sparingly figure in posters and banners.
Pitted against Dr. Singh is the Congress’ sitting MLA, Uday Mudaliyar, who also enjoys goodwill in the constituency. Probably his biggest achievement is bringing together of all warring factions of his party, led by Ajit Jogi, V.C. Shukla or other leaders, the sole aim being to defeat the Chief Minister.
The challenge for the Chief Minister is not just winning the seat but winning with a huge margin. In the 2004 by-election from Dongargaon, the former State Minister, Gita Devi, gave him a tough fight and the difference between them was a mere 12,000 votes. It is with this in mind that the Chief Minister has now camped in Rajnandgaon along with his family in a last-ditch effort to garner as many votes as possible. He is holding roadshows and will end his campaigning on Thursday after meeting people personally. Electioneering came to an end on Wednesday for the first phase of polling to be held on Friday.
Rajnandgaon district has six Assembly seats, of which five are now in the BJP kitty and the Congress has one. Campaign here is likely to influence voters in the neighbouring Kawardha, Durg and Bhilai, which also go to the polls on Friday.
The Congress wrested the Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha seat in the by-election after it fell vacant following the disqualification of the BJP’s Pradeep Gandhi in the cash-for-query scam. He was given the Lok Sabha seat after he vacated Dongargaon to make way for Mr. Raman Singh.
6 months ago