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Polls in 72 seats today: CM Raman Singh fights Congress’s promises

BJP holds 43 of the 72 seats going to polls on Tuesday, and should be able to hold on to its position in the state’s 90-member assembly if it can repeat its performance of 2013.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 20, 2018, 07.21 AM IST
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Raman-Singh
Senior BJP leaders in Chhattisgarh conceded to ET that the loan waiver promise is a factor whose impact in the polls remains to be seen.
The Congress’ three-pronged promise of karz maaf, bijli bill half aur daru-bhatti saaf (loan waiver, halving electricity bills and prohibition) will pose a challenge to chief minister Raman Singh’s image in the second phase of polls on Tuesday, with the Ajit Jogi-Mayawati alliance being the joker in the pack.

BJP holds 43 of the 72 seats going to polls on Tuesday, and should be able to hold on to its position in the state’s 90-member assembly if it can repeat its performance of 2013.

The Congress is, however, offering an alluring narrative for the rice farmers that dominate the landscape in phase-2, including a loan waiver, a payout of the balance bonus of the past two years, and Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 2,500 per quintal of rice.

This is higher than the Rs 2,100 MSP offered by the BJP government, plus Rs 300 per quintal of bonus which has not been paid for the past two years, according to complaints by farmers. Senior BJP leaders in the state conceded to ET that the loan waiver promise is a factor whose impact in the polls remains to be seen.

Prohibition is also a significant issue among woman voters in a state which has high levels of liquor sale and consumption. A lack of a clear and credible CM face from the Congress, however, seems to be affecting the party’s prospects with the BJP latching on to this and going big with Raman Singh’s face on all publicity material and hoardings. Even the Prime Minister’s picture is of much smaller size than that of Singh.

Top BJP leaders have apologised to the people for not being able to give them rice-bonus lately in an effort to quell any kind of anger. The 0% loan interest promise of the BJP as a better alternative to the loan waiver has, however, not gone down well with the masses. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said such promises by the Congress are all up in the air since they wouldn’t come to power anyway.

Chhattisgarh-infograph

Meanwhile, no one knows who the Jogi-Mayawati alliance will hurt more -- BJP or Congress -- and which way the 26 SC/ST seats in phase-2 will swing given the alliance is offering a triangular fight in many seats.

The thin margins in almost two dozen seats in the state have made the ultimate result even more unpredictable. The bickering between Jogi and Mayawati towards the end of the campaign over the former’s comment of being open to a postpoll alliance seems to have impacted the alliance’s chances as both the Congress and BJP have driven home the point that this proves that the alliance is out to strike a bargain.

When asked last week if BJP will take Jogi’s support to form a government, the Singh had said: “I pray to God that such a scenario never ever happens.”
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