Ahead of state polls in Chhattisgarh, development issue seems to be emerging as a buzz. While Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh is riding to retain power on the same issue, three elected panchayat representatives have to go for failing to do “development”.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Dr Raman Singh took a ride state-wide to spell how his government defined and designed development of the state. The 19-day and six-phased Vikas Yatra (development road-show) concluded on June 29 with a big respite for the ruling party that the yatra went on right road.
“The Vikas Yatra was a great success and people responded to it endorsing the development works taken up by the BJP government (since it came to power in December 2003),” Dr Singh said after the campaign that ended in Jashpur on June 29. BJP President Rajnath Singh and state in-charge for party affairs Ravi Shankar Prasad were specially present at the concluding function.
The BJP leadership however have all the reasons to smile. For, the Vikas Yatra that only centred in and around the development issues evoked good response from the people at different corners of the state. The chief minister wholeheartedly sanctioned new development works that would cost crores of rupees.
The campaign started from Maoist-infested Dantewada district on May 23 and ended in Jashpur—the centre of inter state gangs active in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. But law and order was not an issue that was evident the way people clapped for Dr Singh when he addressed gatherings from the stages and roof-top of his chariot (rath).
According to political observers, the BJP leadership is well aware which cards to play in the ensuing assembly elections, due for October-November. Since the issue of development is the biggest card to deal with the anti-incumbency, the saffron strategists know very well that it will hit the right target to counter the opposition party, Congress, which is yet to work out a plan to propel its cadre to election mode.
The faction-ridden main opposition party Congress is struggling to set its home in order before attacking the ruling party. The simmering differences between different camps in the party spilled out in open on June 27 when party activists clashed for an ugly show in Korba in front of senior party leaders who have been entrusted to take the challenges of BJP and ensure victory of the Congress that was rooted out of power in December 2003.
The Congress leaders are confused to tackle the anti-incumbency factors while the BJP has scored over to spell out its development agenda and have gone before the people through the Vikas Yatra well ahead of the onset of election campaign to inform the electorate about its achievements and archives. For the Congress leaders, it would not be an easy task to grill the government on the issue of development.
Had the Congress succeeded in launching a campaign before the BJP’s Yatra, things would have changed as people could not have been convinced with the development formula of Raman Singh. During the regime of previous Congress government headed by Ajit Jogi, the state had no doubt seen a new horizon of development. but the failure of Congress party to encash the issue resulted in its ouster from the power.
The BJP leadership would not commit the same mistake. And the Vikas Yatra strategy stands testimony to it. The party is also planning to take Vijay Yatra (victory campaign) before the electioneering starts on the same issue to consolidate its position before the electorate. The saffron brigade knows the importance of development. And it was in its tenure that Chhattisgarh created history by voting out three panchayat presidents for failing to take up development work.
People of Gunderdehi, Rajpur and Nawagarh Nagar Panchayats on June 17 created history by toppling the President of their respective civic body by casting vote against them by exercising the right bestowed under the state Nagar Palika Act to recall elected representatives.
Under Section 47 (recall of the president) of Chhattisgarh Nagar Palika Adhiniyam 1961, election can be sought to recall the elected representatives if three-fourth of the total number of corporators in the municipal bodies give in writing to the collector that the president has lost the confidence of the body and hence election be held to recall.
Though people’s power ousted the three elected representatives, progress (development) and politics were the main driving force that led to the historic battle of ballots in the three sleepy towns of Durg and Sarguja districts. The corporators blamed the presidents for obstructing the development works and affecting the progress of the panchayat area while moving proposals to collectors.