When it comes to Maoist-dominated tribal region of Bastar, the seat of power in Chhattisgarh, the Congress is leaving no stone unturned in the coming elections.
Knowing fully well that power eluded it twice only due to its poor performance in Bastar with 12 assembly constituencies, the Congress is going all out to woo the voters of the region. The BJP had won nine seats in 2003 and 11 in 2008 elections from this Maoist hotbed, enabling the party to rule the state for two consecutive terms.
Smelling a turnaround this time due to anti-incumbency against the ruling BJP in the region, the Congress has decided to devote a full chapter in its manifesto – set to be released on the Chhattisgarh Day on November 1 -- on steps it seeks to take to contain naxalism besides ensuring overall development of the region.
In the draft manifesto, the party has promised waiver of electricity bills up to Rs 50,000 and irrigation pumps for small and medium farmers.
As Chhattisgarh is surplus in electricity, the Congress has pledged free one bulb power connection to the poorest of the poor.
However, a proposal by the state Congress to offer free rice to below poverty line families to counter the BJP government’s ongoing food security scheme that provides rice at Re 1 a kilo was junked by the central leadership.
With the first phase of polls to be held on November 11, the party is all set to unleash its top leadership on the state.
While Congress president Sonia Gandhi is likely to address her first rally for the coming assembly elections in five states in Kanker district on November 7, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi will address two public meetings on November 8, including one at Rajnandgaon, the constituency of chief minister Raman Singh. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to address a rally at Rapiur on November 9.