ANI Photo | Chhattisgarh polls: BJP seeking power riding on ‘corruption charges’ vs Congress banking on its welfare schemes

Congress and BJP are engaged in a fierce fight in Chhattisgarh, with both parties seeking to outdo each other in terms of poll promises as the state faces the first phase of assembly polls on Tuesday for 20 seats in the Naxal-affected Bastar region and a few constituencies in other districts.
“Corruption” and the price of paddy have emerged as key issues in the polls, with the BJP targeting the Congress government led by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on alleged scams and the “hawala money funding” related to the Mahadev gaming app.
The Congress has rebutted the BJP allegations and accused the ruling party at the Centre of using probe agencies like the CBI and ED against its rivals to gain political mileage.
The caste factor is also at play in a state that has a large population of OBCs and tribals. Both parties have made efforts to woo nearly 38 lakh farmers in the state. Scheduled Tribes comprise over 30 per cent of the state’s population.
The BJP won three successive polls in the state till 2018 but lost badly in 2018. The party is now seeking a return to power with the slogan that it created the state and will make it prosperous.
Caste census, loan waiver, gas cylinder subsidy, unemployment, jobs and housing for the poor are among other issues being raised in the polls.
Congress has promised paddy procurement at Rs 3,200 per quintal (20 acre per quintal), including input subsidy being given under the Rajiv Gandhi Nyay Yojna.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which released its manifesto a day before the Congress, has promised ‘Krishi Unnati Scheme’ under which 21 quintals of paddy per acre will be procured at Rs 3,100.
The Congress has promised free education to students, free electricity up to 200 units, cheaper LPG cylinders, and a hike in tendu leaf collection at Rs 6,000 per standard sack in place of the existing Rs 4,000.
The BJP’s manifesto ‘Modi ki guarantee’ has several promises including LPG cylinders at Rs 500, government jobs to one lakh youth in two years, and Rs 10,000 annual assistance to landless agricultural labourers.
The party has also assured Rs 12,000 annual financial assistance to married women.
Congress is hoping to capitalize on the welfare schemes announced by its government and the “welfare record” of its government. Party leaders see farmers as a decisive factor in the assembly elections. They said that a key reason for success in the previous assembly polls was promises to farmers, including loan waivers.
Bhupesh Baghel has been trying to counter the Hindutva thrust of the BJP with initiatives like the Ram Van Gaman Path.
Apart from allegations related to the gaming app, the BJP is also targeting the Congress government over alleged corruption in job recruitment. BJP leaders have spoken of alleged scams in coal mining, the liquor trade and even the Godhan Nyay Yojana.
The BJP has been doing well in tribal-dominated areas of the state but in 2018, Congress had quite a sway. Former Union Minister Arvind Netam has floated the ‘Hamar Raj Party’ and has accused both Congress and the BJP of not fulfilling the demands of tribals.
Apart from the Aam Aadmi Party and the BSP, there are other smaller parties in the fray.
While the Congress has projected Bhupesh Baghel as the Chief Ministerial candidate, the BJP has not projected a face. With Baghel seen to be wooing the farmers aggressively, the BJP too is keen to capitalise on the popularity that former Chief Minister Raman Singh gained as “Chaaur wale Baba”.
The remaining 70 seats in the state will go to the polls in the second phase of assembly polls on November 17.
In 2018, the Congress won 17 of the 20 seats that will go to the polls in the first phase. BJP won two seats while former chief minister Ajit Jogi’s party won one seat.
A total of 223 candidates are in the fray for 20 seats, and the Election Commission has set up 5304 booths for this phase. Officials said 40.78 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the first phase of polling

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