With the final count-down for the ensuing Assembly elections starts in Chhattisgarh, Congressmen in the state rally behind the unity mantra to take on the rallies of Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh.
May 23 will have a great significance when the new government will assume office later in the month of December this year. For, it was on this day the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched a Gujarat-model of Yatra to retain power while opposition Congress went for a major overhaul in the party model to prepare for the coming polls.
Dr Singh launched his Vikas Yatra (road show) to propel the party workers in election mode from the headquarters of worst-Maoist hit Dantewada district. Leader of Opposition and BJP’s Prime Minister candidate L K Advani along with state polls in-charge Ravishankar Prasad were specially present to flag off the Yatra
During his six-phased Yatra, Dr Singh is scheduled to address as many as 1,200 public meetings and rallies in the 90 assembly constituencies of the state. “I want to directly interact with the people. And it is not possible by flying in a chopper,” Dr Singh said while explaining about the motive of his road show.
But the road show of the chief minister is guided more by the
Gujarat formula than the local one. The Vikas Rath (Chariot) is reported to be the same in which Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi covered the length and breadth of his state before the elections that rode him back to power. The Rath has been redesigned according to the taste of Dr Singh and the state. But the strategy and the mechanism of Gujarat model remain the same.
While the “Sarthi (driver)” of Modi’s Rath is driving Dr Singh’s chariot, the motor mechanics to take care of technical snags have also come from
Gujarat. The message is clear—the driver is guiding the road as he did in Gujarat while the mechanics are here to rectify the technical snags if coming in its way to stop Raman Singh for taking his party to retain power in the state.
Gujarat model is certainly in action and the master-strategists of the ruling party are selling the development theory as it worked in Gujarat to convince people that Chhattisgarh has seen a new phase of development after the BJP government assumed office in December 2003.
The only difference between Chhattisgarh and
Gujarat is that, Dr Singh avoids taking a drive in the pockets that reel under one of the biggest problems the state is facing from the Maoists. Though Dr Singh started his Yatra from Dantewada, he missed to attend a single rally--contrary to the claim that he will hold meetings in each assembly constituency—in worst Maoist-hit Konta and Bijapur Assembly segments in Bastar.
Dr Singh took the roads that did not pass from the territories that red army claims to be theirs and under its influence. While he successfully completed his Yatra in Maoist-hotbed of Bastar region, the Chief Minister’s convoy passed through the
National Highway or main roads instead of going to the interior areas where he could get the exact picture of his Vikas Mantra.
“Since there is no Vikas (development) in the Maoist-hit areas, the Vikas Yatra of the chief minister missed to roll in the interior areas,” a senior leader of the ruling party quipped. The BJP strategists are confident that it will not have much impact as only seats can be categorised as under the influence of the rebels. But the BJP leaders failed to count the rebels had their presence in the tribals pockets and in the House of 90, the 29 seats reserved for the Scheduled Tribes (ST) holds the key to power.
The opposition party however committed another mistake by failing to acknowledge the importance of 29 tribal seats in the state while appointing a politically low-profiled Dhanendra Sahu as the new President of the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee. “A tribal party chief in the state could have been a better bet,” said a senior Congress leader from the state.
The move of giving big onus to Dhanendra, a sitting Congress legislator, is to rig the Sahu votes that also play important role in changing the political equation of electoral politics in the state. In the move to sway the other backward class, Charandas Mahant has been retained as working President of the PCC—a demotion of post as he earlier held the post of state party chief.
Another Congress legislator and a Brahmin face of the Congress in Chhattisgarh, Satyanarayan Sharma has also been appointed as working president of the party. Sharma in fact has a capacity to propel the party workers to take on challenges, his election strategies in by-elections in the state has yielded the desired results for the party.
The Congressmen in the state have rallied behind the unity mantra in the new party organisational set up. A massive welcome rally in the state capital on May 29 with senior leaders of all factions on board the Ekta Rath demonstrating unity has charged the party workers. But the unity under a single leadership and now a series of leaders could help the party in better way.
Now with Karnataka going away from the Congress, it has become clear that the failure of party to project chief minister’s candidate has given advantage to the opponent. A high time, Congress should think of a one in
Chhattisgarh and other states that go to the polls later in the year.