‘Raman effect will bring BJP back in Chhattisgarh’

    By Jaideep Sarin, IANS,

    Raipur : The mood at the main office of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in this capital city of poll-bound Chhattisgarh is anything but tense. With the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressing his last set of rallies Friday, party strategists are upbeat that the Raman Singh government will be back in power for a third term.

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    “The Raman effect will bring the BJP government back for a third term in Chhattisgarh. This is for sure,” BJP general secretary and Chhattisgarh in-charge Jagat Prakash Nadda told IANS in an interview here.

    Nadda said that the opposition Congress, which has been out of power in the state since 2003, has nothing to offer to the people and is “solely banking on anti-incumbency factor” against the Raman Singh government, which is completing 10 years in power.

    “There is no anti-incumbency against the BJP government. Rather, the heavy voting (over 75 percent) in the first phase shows that people are voting for development. People came forward to vote in the Naxal-affected areas of the Bastar region despite the risk. All surveys have shown that Raman Singh is a popular leader,” said Nadda, who has toured all areas of Chhattisgarh in recent months.

    The BJP is, however, not banking on the ‘Raman effect’ alone. BJP’s star campaigner and prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has also addressed over 10 rallies in the last few days.

    “The star campaigners also connect with the people. They also have an impact,” Nadda said, justifying the need for Modi and other leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

    While 18 assembly constituencies in the violence-hit belt went to the polls Nov 11 and recorded over 75 percent polling, the remaining 72 of the 90-member assembly will see polling on Tuesday.

    For the BJP top leadership, the image of Chief Minister Raman Singh and the development works initiated by his government are the things that matter as the BJP takes a third shot at coming to power.

    Out of the 18 seats in the Maoist-affected belt, the BJP had won 15 seats in the 2008 assembly elections. It was this belt that proved decisive for the BJP last time as the party won 50 seats. The Congress had to contend with 38 seats and sit in the opposition. “The Congress did not want heavy polling this time,” Nadda claimed.

    Congress leaders are quite hopeful that the Bastar belt will give the party many more seats this time and it will form the next government.

    But the BJP is not letting it go so easily.

    “We will better our winning tally in the Bastar belt this time. The Raman Singh government has done a lot of development in the tribal area. Be it helping them for the marketing of Tendu leaves (used for Beedi making) or setting up an educational hub in Dantewada, the state government has brought development to the area despite the situation prevailing there,” Nadda said.

    With no clear wave for or against the BJP or the Congress, both sides are claiming an upper hand. However, no one is saying that it will be a washout for the other side.

    “This election is about the credibility of the BJP and the Congress. While the Congress is a divided house and its leaders have come together only for this election, the BJP is a united party. We are decided (about the leadership issue), the Congress is mischievously undecided,” Nadda said.

    The result of the BJP’s ‘Raman-effect’ will be known December 8.

    (Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected])