CM Baghel invokes regional pride for Congress repeat in Chhattisgarh

Mr. Baghel called the election a “war for the pride of the soil” and vowed to build a “new Chhattisgarh”, at a time the Opposition BJP is looking to project the issue of corruption to attain power

October 09, 2023 11:11 pm | Updated October 12, 2023 12:07 pm IST - Raipur

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. File

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. File | Photo Credit: PTI

The Chhattisgarh Assembly election this time will be fought for the State’s pride and self-respect, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said on Monday, outlining the Congress’s poll plank.

Mr. Baghel, in a post on X (formerly Twitter), called the election a “war for the pride of the soil” and vowed to build a “new Chhattisgarh”, at a time the Opposition BJP is looking to project the issue of corruption to attain power.

The poll will be held in two phases on November 7 and 17. The counting will take place on December 3.

However, some analysts say the ruling party’s strategy to invoke regional pride has its limitations. They say it can be effectively harnessed only in the central part of the State, comprising tribal areas such as Sarguja and Bastar, which collectively account for 26 seats in the 90-member Assembly.

Building narrative

The Congress, since the formation of its government in 2018, has tried to build a narrative around regional sub-nationalism, combining it with welfare schemes. The party has installed statues of ‘Chhattisgarh Mahtari (Mother Chhattisgarh)’ in parts of the State and organised the Chhattisgarhiya Olympics as well as local festivals on a grand scale.

It also introduced the Godhan Nyay Yojana for the protection of cows and started transferring money directly into the accounts of around 24 lakh paddy cultivators, a significant chunk of the 2.3-crore voters.

Along with a farm loan waiver, the Congress is projecting the increase in support prices for crops and minor forest produce as a success story.

The party will also try to encash on its demand for a countrywide caste census. It is projecting Mr. Baghel as its Chief Ministerial face to win over voters from the Other Backward Classes.

On the other hand, the BJP is accusing the Congress of corruption and not fulfilling the promises made in the last election.

BJP leader and former Chief Minister Raman Singh said on Monday that development works in the State were stalled after the Congress came to power. He said the State government has been mired in corruption, “be it the ₹5,000-crore scam in the Pradhan Mantri Khadya Suraksha Yojana or the coal levy scam”.

“These are the major issues with which we will go to people,” Mr. Singh said.

While Mr. Baghel holds sway in the Congress campaign, the central leadership has been calling the shots in the BJP since the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

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