New Delhi, Oct 21 (UNI) As the state of Chhattisgarh gets ready to go for two-phased polls on November 12 and 20, the Congress will be looking to attack the Raman Singh Government on a host of issues, including the failure of the BJP Government in the state to tackle poverty, farmers’ distress and lack of jobs.
During its campaigning in the state, which goes to poll in the first phase in three weeks, the Congress, which is looking to wrest power from the BJP, plans to highlight how the Raman Singh government has failed to improve the economic condition of people in the state as well as its failure to create jobs.
The Congress leaders claimed that when the Raman Singh Government came to power in the state in 2003, 37 per cent of people in the state were below the poverty line.
However, in the last 15 years, the number of people falling below the poverty line has risen to over 40 per cent.
Congress leader and AICC spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill, who has been appointed the Congress media in-charge for Chhattisgarh, said, ‘Number of people falling below the poverty line in Chhattisgarh, which was at 37 per cent when the BJP came to power in the state, today stands at 41 per cent. This shows that the Raman Singh Government in the state has failed to tackle the poverty in the state.’
Congress leaders say that despite being endowed with rich natural resources, Chhattisgarh is among the most backward states in the country.
This, they say, is not the claim of the Congress but the NITI Aayog that has listed Chhattisgarh as among the most backward states in the countries.
In this context, they also point out that the human development index of Chhattisgarh is 0.58, the lowest in the country.
The Human development index of Chhattisgarh is the lowest at 0.58. This clearly shows that the BJP Government has failed to do much work for the development of the state in the last 15 years, they say.
They point out that just 26 per cent of women in the state had gone to school with the figure in rural areas being lower at 20 per cent.
This, they say, runs contrary to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet slogan of ‘Beti padhao’.
The Congress leaders alleged that the Raman Singh government has spent large amount of money in advertisement of the Government policies rather than in improving the standards of living of the people, providing education or improving the state’s human development index.
It is a government of advertisement rather than one of ‘vision’, they say.
The Congress party is also looking to attack the BJP on the issue of lack of jobs considering that the 2018 election in the state will witness over 1 lakh new voters.
With these voters, the lack of job options is a major cause of concern.
As per the official data, over 24 lakh people have registered with various employment exchanges in the state.
Agricultural distress is another issue on which the Congress will be looking to attack the Raman Singh government.
The Congress leaders feel that agricultural distress is an important issue in the rural areas of Chhattisgarh, which has recorded 1,500 farmers suicides in the last three years.
Reports say the drought in the state last year forced farmers and even agricultural labourers from different parts of the state to migrate to urban centres in search of livelihood.
Chhattisgarh received 12.8 per cent less rainfall this year, as compared to the last 10 years. Around 96 tehsils in 21 districts in the state were declared drought-hit in September last year.
Also, farmers in the state have been protesting for the past four years, demanding hikes in the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy, bonus and free electricity for water pumps that use up to 5 HP.
The Congress leaders feel that the decreasing popularity of the Raman Singh Government in the state among the youth, farmers and agricultural labourers would benefit the Congress in the state.
While the recent induction of Ram Dayal Uikey in the BJP, working president of the Congress state unit and a top Adivasi leader, and rebel Congress leader Ajit Jogi’s tie up with Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati are seen as a setback for the Congress , the party nevertheless seems confident of overcoming these challenges.
The tie up of Mr Jogi with Ms Mayawati has added a fresh dimension to electoral dynamics in Chhattisgarh with the political observers saying that the two leaders have the potential to wean away Adivasi and Dalit votes from the Congress.
However, there are many in the Congress who feel that the Mr Jogi and Ms Mayawati factor would not affect them much.
They say that over the last few elections in the state, the impact of Mayawati in the state has been on the wane.
In the 2013 assembly polls, the BSP won just one seat in the 90 member assembly.
Also, while the Jogi-Mayawati alliance deals a blow to the Congress’ plan of winning over the Scheduled Castes, it could also have consequences for the BJP, which made major gains in Scheduled Caste reserved constituencies in the 2013 election.
On its part, the Congress is pulling out all stops to ensure its victory in the state.
The party recently released a list of star campaigners for the state.
Besides Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Chairperson of the Congress parliamentary party Sonia Gandhi and former prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the list of party’s star campaigners for the state include cricketer-turned-politicians Navjot Singh Sidhu and Mohammad Azharuddin, as also senior leaders like Ashok Gehlot, Sushil Kumar Shinde, PL Punia, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Raj Babbar and Jyotiraditya Scindia as well as senior leaders of the state Congress, including Bhupesh Baghel, Tamradwaj Sahu, Charandas Mahant and TS Singhdeo.
The election to the Chhattisgarh assembly will be held in two phases, on November 12 and November 20.
The first phase of polling covers 18 seats spread across eight naxal-affected districts-Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Sukma, Kondagaon, Kanker, Narayanpur and Rajnandgaon.
The Congress on Thursday released its first list of 12 candidates for the state Assembly polls.
In the 2013 polls, of the total 90 seats, BJP had won 49 seats, Congress 39, BSP 1 and independent 1.