Raipur: The ruling BJP and its challengers — the Congress and Ajit Jogi’s new party JCC — feel the ‘Red Zone’ holds the key to formation of the next government in Chhattisgarh as they fight it out in the country’s worst Naxal-affected Bastar region with each of them promising to do better for its development.
Leaders from different parties are campaigning hard to woo voters by doing door-to-door visit, holding rallies and highlighting their development agenda.
Besides them, top central leaders of these parties are expected to hold rallies in the region, which goes to poll on November 12.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi among others are expected to hold rallies in the Bastar region ahead of polling, their party leaders said.
There are a total of 12 seats in the Bastar region — Bijapur, Dantewara, Konta, Chitrakot, Bastar, Narainpur, Kondagaon, Keshkal, Kanker, Bhanupratappur, Antagarh and Jagdalpur. Of them, eight are held by the Congress and the rest by the BJP.
This region has been witness to some of the deadliest Maoist attacks in the country over several years, and a recent attack in the run-up to the election, in which two policemen and a photo journalist were killed and several injured, again brought the issue of Naxalism back to headlines.
Polling for the 90-seat Chhattisgarh Assembly is scheduled to be held in two phases first on November 12 for 18 seats and on November 20 for 72 constituencies.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, who is seeking mandate for a record fourth time, is contesting from Rajnandgaon constituency where polling will be held in the first phase.
“BJP will definitely win maximum seats from Bastar. The Raman Singh-led BJP government has carried out several development works in the region and we are confident that people will vote us back,” senior leader and the ruling party’s spokesperson Sanjay Shrivastava said.
He said tribals from the Bastar region will vote Singh back to power.
However, Congress leaders are equally confident of their victory owing to strong anti-incumbency against the ruling dispensation.
“There is water scarcity in most of the areas. Agricultural lands in the state are drying up. Farmers and tribals are living miserable life. Price rise and corruption are rampant. Why should people vote back BJP?” asked Rajendra Tiwari, senior Brahmin leader of the Congress party and a member of its state election committee.
He said the Congress is gaining its footprint in almost all the regions of the state.
“One thing I can say for sure that this time people have decided not to vote the BJP for a variety of reasons. I can stake my entire political career on these words,” said Tiwari.
The Ajit Jogi-led Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC) party is also active in the state and wooing tribals by offering waiver of farm loans and jobs for local youths.
“We will win maximum seats from Bastar. People of these areas have lost faith in both the BJP and the Congress. We will ensure that tribals get their dues and this area progresses,” said Nitin Bhansali, the newly-formed party’s spokesperson.
JCC and the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have joined hands to contest polls together in Chhattisgarh.
Leaders from both the BJP and the Congress have termed this alliance as “irrelevant” and claim their vote bank will not be harmed by this alliance.
The Congress lost to the BJP in the 2013 election as it could secure only 39 Assembly seats out of 90.
The ruling BJP got 49 seats and one each was won by the BSP and an Independent.