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War room: Chhattisgarh; Who has the edge?

While CM Raman Singh has strong RSS backing, Wheelchair-bound Ajit Jogi is a still a force in the Congress. Who has the edge?

india Updated: Oct 24, 2013 22:55 IST
Ejaz Kaiser

RULING PARTY: BJP

Key strategists: Chief minister Raman Singh, 60; Rajya Sabha member and BJP national general secretary JP Nadda, 52; state general secretary, Pratap Singh, 51, and Saudan Singh, 54, former RSS pracharak and BJP general secretary.

Summary: Raman Singh, said to be close to BJP president Rajnath Singh, has strong RSS backing. The BJP and the RSS work in close coordination here to decide ticket distribution and poll strategies. The fully activated war room operates from Ekatma Parisar, the BJP head office. JP Nadda has mainly focused his attention on the Bastar belt to ensure the party doesn’t face any setback there. He, alongwith Saudan Singh, is holding sessions on election management to ensure a BJP hat-trick.

Approach: Besides surveys by the party and other independent sources, senior party leaders have been appointed as observers for constituencies. These observers have been relieved from organisational duties so that they can give impartial and even-handed reports about probable candidates. They have interacted with local party leaders, cadres and the people. The observers’ reports were submitted to a state election committee which prepared the candidate list, which has been forwarded to the central election committee.

Opposition: CONGRESS

Key strategists: Senior Congress leader and ex-CM Ajit Jogi, 66; AICC general secretary in-charge of Chhattisgarh B K Hariprasad, 59; AICC treasurer Motilal Vora, 84; PCC chief Charan Das Mahant, 59

Summary: Wheelchair-bound Ajit Jogi is a still a force. Known for his indomitable spirit and political acumen, he has emerged stronger following the Maoist attack at Darbha that fleetingly created a leadership vacuum. B K Hariprasad also plays a role in the party’s poll strategy. Owing to factionalism, senior Congress leaders in Delhi are expecting Vora to act as a balancing force between different groups. Mahant, who took charge of the party after the death of Nand Kumar Patel, has held talks on probable candidates alongwith the leader of opposition, Ravindra Choubey. The leaders have been camping in Delhi for the past month to scrutinise candidates with the party’s screening committee, chaired by CP Joshi.

Approach: “We don’t believe in a concept of a war room but of course our preparation is very much on a war-footing with a far better, sensible and systematic action plan than the BJP”, said Cong spokesperson Shailesh Nitin Trivedi. The party has carried out surveys to identify the suitability and appeal of the existing or prospective candidates in various constituencies.