Not just the festival season, the poll season is almost upon us. And with this, political campaigning and party activities have picked up pace.
While the BJP gives its all to make up ground in Madhya Pradesh and deals with rebels unhappy with Union Ministers being moved to the state to contest the polls, the BJP’s electoral effort in Chhattisgarh is set to receive a boost today as Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes his way over there to address a big rally in Bilaspur at the end of the party’s “Parivartan Yatras”.
Unlike Madhya Pradesh, where the party is said to be in a much better position compared to a few weeks ago, and Rajasthan, where even Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has admitted that the battle is “very close”, the BJP faces its toughest battle this winter in Chhattisgarh. Given the stature of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and the Congress driving home its caste census message in a state where Other Backward Classes (OBCs) are estimated to comprise almost 47% of the population, the BJP will have to find a way to neutralise that if it has to win.
One thing that the BJP looks likely to campaign on, and which PM Modi is expected to highlight at the rally today, is the issue of alleged corruption. In the past five years, the Baghel government has faced a series of accusations in connection with several alleged scams — from the alleged Rs 2,161-crore liquor scam to the alleged coal-levy scam. At a rally in Raipur in July, Modi had alleged that the Congress considers Chhattisgarh as its ATM. Underscoring the BJP’s intention to push till the last in Chhattisgarh, the PM will be back in the state to visit Bastar region’s most developed city of Jagdalpur on October 3.
But before he heads to Chhattisgarh, Modi is set to launch the week-long “Sankalp Saptaah” as a part of the nationwide Aspirational Blocks Programme at the Bharat Mandapan in New Delhi. The programme, currently active in 500 blocks across 329 districts, aims to improve block-level governance. The event will run from October 3 to 9 and involve 3,000 panchayat and block representatives.
Meanwhile, the Congress is also readying to come out with a list of candidates in Madhya Pradesh. Today, Rahul Gandhi will address a rally in the Kalapipal Assembly constituency in Shajapur district that will mark the culmination of the party’s “Jan Aakrosh Yatra”, which began earlier this month from seven different regions of the state and covered 11,400 km and nearly all the Assembly constituencies. Asked about the candidate list, party spokesperson K K Mishra said, “We have almost completed our list. The minute our Jan Akrosh Yatra is complete, we will bring out competitive candidates. They are ready for the tough fight.”
In Punjab, unity in the INDIA coalition is facing a test after Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira was arrested in connection with an eight-year-old narcotics case. The Congress is expected to continue its criticism of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led government over the arrest. Party leaders have been asked to reach Fazilka, where Khaira was taken after his arrest, to express solidarity with the MLA.
Elsewhere in the state, farmers’ groups will continue their “rail roko” protest over demands for a financial package for losses incurred in floods last month, a legal guarantee for MSP, and a debt waiver. The protests were scheduled to end today but the Azad Kisan Committee has said they may continue if the demands aren’t met.
In Tripura, the TIPRA Motha has called a 12-hour bandh in tribal areas as part of its broader demand for a separate state of Greater Tipraland.
Meanwhile, the two-day “All India Meeting of Women Coordination” of the RSS will begin in Jaipur today and is expected to be attended by about 300 participants from across India. In Gandhinagar, Gujarat, Union Home Minister Amit Shah will inaugurate the new building of the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research. He will also inaugurate and lay the foundation stones of several local-level projects in Ahmedabad.
— With PTI inputs