Chhattisgarh to witness clash of the titans

November 8th, 2008 - 12:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyRaipur, Nov 8 (IANS) It will be a battle royal between two sharply contrasting personalities in Chhattisgarh: Chief Minister Raman Singh and his bete noire Ajit Jogi of the Congress.The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is banking heavily on Raman Singh’s “Mr Clean” image as well as the development works he unleashed in the past five years to retain power in the tribal-majority state.

The Congress has no choice but to go for wheelchair-bound Jogi, the party’s lone hope to turn the tables on the BJP. The reason is simple: the bureaucrat-turned-politician remains a popular figure in rural areas.

Barring the fact that both quit profitable careers to take to politics, Raman Singh and Jogi have little in common.

Doctor-turned-politician Raman Singh is widely seen as a fine human being but a weak administrator, one who has little grip on the bureaucracy.

Jogi on the other hand is labelled a cunning politician who holds — when he is in power — absolute control over the government and bureaucracy. He lost power in the November 2003 elections.

Both leaders are making near- similar allegations against each other.

BJP leaders say that increasing violence during Jogi’s tenure did him in. The BJP, they say, ensured the state’s development. The Congress is saying much the same about the five years of BJP rule.

And both are equally confident of trouncing the other.

“I am pretty confident that people will maintain their faith in the BJP. I seek vote for the development carried out during my tenure. I am sure people will give us one more chance to (rule),” Raman Singh told IANS.

Jogi, however, remarked: “Rampant corruption, rising Maoist violence and the crime graph plus a total halt to development during BJP rule are the issues on which the Congress is seeking a mandate.

“There is a strong undercurrent (against the government). People want a change after comparing the three-year Congress rule and five-year BJP tenure,” Jogi told IANS.

The Nov 14 and Nov 20 ballot for a 90-member assembly will decide the fate of a much-hyped armed campaign against Maoist guerrillas launched in June 2005. Called Salwa Judum, the government claimed it was a “people’s uprising and a spontaneous outburst of tribal anger” against the Maoists.

Jogi, who has been confined to a wheel chair after suffering a crippling accident, called Salwa Judum a sponsored “anti-tribal movement” that uprooted thousands of innocents from 700 forested villages in the name of fighting the Maoists.

“I will scrap Salwa Judum if the Congress is voted to power. People of a vast area were forced to leave all their belongings in their native villages and forced to settle in relief camps,” Jogi asserted.

But Raman Singh maintains that Salwa Judum is “a rare people’s movement”.

“It was the people of Bastar who decided to launch the movement to flush out militants and it will be their (Bastar people’s) decision when they wish to call it off.”

The Congress has also brought up as campaign themes what it says are the rising crime graph and poor law and order condition.

“There are an average three rapes every day in the state and law and order has collapsed under the BJP government,” Jogi added.

Raman Singh calls this a cooked-up story.

“You can ask anyone in this state, except Congressmen, they will tell you law and order is much better. Voters will not fall prey to Congress propaganda.”

A total of 39 constituencies will see voting Nov 14 and 51 seats Nov 20. The counting of votes will take place Dec 8.

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