Chhattisgarh chief minister has a battle on hand

November 6th, 2008 - 1:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Rajnandgaon (Chhattisgarh), Nov 6 (IANS) Though Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh is proving to be a crowd-puller in the run-up to the state assembly polls, he and his family are having to make all efforts to get each and every vote for the Rajnandgaon seat he is fighting for.The ayurvedic doctor-turned-politician, Raman Singh, who was sworn in on Dec 7, 2003, to head the first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state, has changed his constituency for the third time in a row.

After losing to the Congress in 1998 at his home turf Kawardha, Raman Singh successfully contested the 2004 assembly by-election from Dongargaon. This time he has opted for Rajnandgaon, which has the history of not sending its sitting legislator back to the assembly since the constituency was demarcated in 1956.

It was a photo-finish in the state’s maiden assembly poll in November 2003 in Rajnandgaon when BJP nominee Leelaram Bhojwani lost to the Congress’ Udai Mudliyar by just 40 votes. The Congress has fielded him again.

Voter opinion in this constituency is divided. “Udai is a fine person, a majority of voters are confused here whether to go for Udai again or for the chief minister, who has promised to flood the segment with development schemes,” said Rajbahadur, 62, resident of Sindhi Colony.

Teacher Naina Singh, who lives in Sadar Bazar, said: “There is a serious fight on; you should not think that the chief minister’s contesting here means it’s a one-sided battle. A lot of people love Mudliyar.”

“Everyone believes here it’s proud to be the voter of a leader who is probably going to be chief minister again. We have no problem with the Congress candidate, who was always ready to help whenever we asked, but he lacks the political stature of Raman Singh,” Deepak Sahu, an illiterate hosiery shopkeeper of Brahminpara area, told IANS.

The segment has 165,281 voters, including 82,199 women. Raman Singh’s spouse Veena and their son Abhishek have taken charge of the campaign.

Analysts say though there is a fight on, the 56-year-old BJP veteran will not have much of a problem entering the 90-member assembly from Rajnandgaon as Other Backward Class (OBC) voters are switching over to the BJP. The OBC voters form a decisive chunk.

In the middle of her campaign in crowded Brahminpara, Veena Singh told IANS: “I am doing my best”.

Mudliyar, who was also out on the campaign trail, said: “I am set to produce a stunner”.

Rajnandgaon goes to the polls in the first phase Nov 14 along with 39 other constituencies. The results will be declared Dec 8.

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