Sparks fly as cam­paign for Round 1 of polls ends

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Front Page - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­

CURTAINRAISER Bas­tar to set pat­tern for vot­ing in MP, Ra­jasthan, Mi­zo­ram RAIPUR:

Cam­paign­ing ended on a com­bat­ive note on Satur­day for the first phase of polling in the Maoist strong­hold of Ch­hat­tis­garh, with the Bharati­jaya Party (BJP) claim­ing to have al­most ended left-wing ex­trem­ism in the state and the Congress as­sert­ing it needed no lessons in pa­tri­o­tism from the BJP, in a ri­poste to Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s al­le­ga­tion that it backed Maoist sym­pa­this­ers.

BJP pres­i­dent, Amit Shah, spoke for the rul­ing party, taking over from Modi, who claimed on Fri­day that the Congress was soft on so-called “ur­ban nax­als,” or left-wing ac­tivists based in the cities sym­pa­thetic to the cause of Maoists, and ac­cused it of de­scrib­ing the rebels as “rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies”.

“The BJP govern­ment un­der chief min­is­ter Ra­man Singh has con­tained Nax­al­ism and made the state al­most free of it,” Shah claimed, re­leas­ing the BJP’s elec­tion man­i­festo. “A party that feels Nax­al­ism is a medium for revo­lu­tion can­not do any good for Ch­hat­tis­garh,” he added in a ref­er­ence to the Congress.

Gandhi re­torted: ““Don’t teach us pa­tri­o­tism. There is a line of mar­tyrs in our party.”

Mon­day’s first phase of polling in Ch­hat­tis­garh, which will be held amid tight se­cu­rity as­sured by thou­sands of po­lice and para­mil­i­tary troop­ers, will cover 18 of the 90 assem­bly seats in the state, where the re­main­ing will vote on November 20. Twelve of the 18 are lo­cated in the Bas­tar re­gion, a Maoist hot­bed.

The Congress won 12 and BJP 6 in the re­gion, where polling was less than the statewide aver­age of 77.12%. Over­all, the BJP got 49 and Congress 39 with one each to BSP and an in­de­pen­dent. This time around, Modi has vis­ited Ch­hat­tis­garh twice since the elec­tion was an­nounced on Oc­to­ber 6; Gandhi has been there three times.

“The first phase of polling is very im­por­tant for both the par­ties. The pat­tern and polling will re­flect the po­lit­i­cal wave in Ch­hat­tis­garh,” said Ashok To­mar, a po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor based in Raipur.

Polling in Bas­tar will also raise the cur­tain on the elec­tions that will take place over the next month in the Hindi heart­land states of Mad­hya Pradesh and Ra­jasthan, be­sides Ch­hat­tis­garh,


Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi ad­dresses an elec­tion rally in Kanker, Ch­hat­tis­garh on Satur­day

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