Can ‘Brand Raman’ work again for BJP in Chhattisgarh?

April 2nd, 2009 - 11:53 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Raipur, April 2 (IANS) The Lok Sabha polls in Chhattisgarh may prove to be an acid test for Chief Minister Raman Singh, who was widely credited for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) victory in the assembly elections last year.
Many are asking if “Brand Raman” - based on clean image and popularity of the chief minister - will work its magic again when the state’s 11 parliamentary constituencies go to the polls April 16.

Anil Vibhakar, a political analyst, said: “In November, when the BJP pulled off a victory, everyone credited it to people’s approval of Raman Singh’s clean image.

“But now he has to prove in parliamentary elections that he really has a hold over the masses. It looks like ‘brand Raman’ is at stake, in at least five-six Lok Sabha seats.”

Analysts say the Congress is better placed this time compared to the 2004 polls and it will be a neck-to-neck fight in five unreserved seats - Rajnandgaon, Durg, Mahasamund, Bilaspur and Korba - and the Janjgir-Champa constituency reserved for the Scheduled Castes.

The BJP is believed to have a clear edge in all the four seats reserved for the Scheduled Tribes - Bastar, Kanker, Raigarh and Surguja - and also the unreserved constituency of Raipur.

Singh, an ayurveda doctor-turned-politician, is downplaying the ‘brand Raman’ theory.

“In the assembly polls, victory was inspired not by an individual. It was the party organisation that firmed up strategy and notched up victory. We will again jointly strive to blank out the Congress,” Singh told IANS.

He said the BJP was seeking votes mainly on two issues - “the achievements of the state BJP government and the Congress-led central government’s consistent neglect of Chhattisgarh or a deliberate step-motherly treatment to the state”.

But the Congress too is piling on pressure on Raman Singh.

“The real test of ‘brand Raman’ lies this month. If he really rules people’s hearts, then the BJP should win all 11 seats, otherwise people will start wondering whether the November victory was just plain lucky,” said Ramesh Varlyani, the state Congress general secretary.

“The Congress will expose the BJP for taking corruption to saturation levels since December 2003 when the saffron government came to power and for the misuse of massive funds being provided by the central government for welfare schemes in the state,” he said.

The BJP had won 10 seats in the 2004 general elections.

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