Shah, Rahul trade barbs ahead of crucial polls
Campaigning for first phase of election ends in Chhattisgarh
Campaigning for the first phase of assembly elections ended in Chhattisgarh yesterday with Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi trading barbs at each other over what they had done for the benefit of the state.
Shah released the party’s manifesto and held a road show in Rajnandgaon, the home turf of Chief Minister Raman Singh, while Gandhi addressed three public meetings in Kondagaon, Jagdalpur and Kanker besides meeting several stakeholder groups including NGOs, civil society members and representatives of the Satnami Samaj, an influential community in the state politics.
While releasing the manifesto, Shah hit out at the Congress accusing it of being a “Maoist sympathiser” and said that the BJP government under Raman Singh has made the state nearly Maoist-free and developed it into a power hub of cement, steel and aluminium industries, besides making rapid progress in education and health.
“Raman Singh has made a successful effort to change Chhattisgarh in the last 15 years. The biggest achievement of the BJP regime here is that it has tightened the noose on the Maoists,” Shah said.
“It has almost freed the state from the insurgents,” the BJP chief said, adding that when Raman Singh returns to power, he will focus on making the state a digital hub.
The BJP promised to give Rs 200,000 interest-free loans to women to start business, give free books and uniforms to students till Class 12, set up a journalists’ welfare board and build a film city in the state among others if voted to power.
Attacking the Congress, Shah said: “The party which sees Maoism as a medium for revolution can never do welfare for the state.”
He said by providing cooking gas cylinders, electricity, education and health services to the poor and bringing happiness on the faces of farmers his party has brought about a “revolution”.
Taking on the Congress, Shah said the opposition party which ruled India since Independence failed to deliver development in states.
Gandhi, at a public meeting in the Kondagaon area, hit back at the BJP by mocking Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his silence on the issues of corruption, demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax and termed Raman Singh and Modi “corrupt”.
“Chhattisgarh is a prosperous state, but the BJP government steals from the people and helps 15-20 of its rich industrialist friends. Your natural resources are distributed among the rich. Chhattisgarh is the poorest state in India,” he said.
Attacking Raman Singh, Gandhi said the “chief minister here is corrupt.”
“The prime minister says he fights corruption. But when it comes to Chhattisgarh, he doesn’t say that the chief minister is corrupt.”
Giving examples of corruption in the state, the Congress leader alleged that no action was taken in the Rs50bn chit fund scam case “as the chief minister did not want any action in that”.
“Over 60 people died and 310 FIRs were registered in the case but no action was taken because in the chit fund scam chief minister name was there.”
“In the PDS (public distribution system) scam, Rs36,000 crore was siphoned off. A diary was seized in that it was written that the money was given to CM madam and Dr Saheb,” he said, adding, “I want to ask Raman Singhji who was the CM madam and Dr Saheb.”
BJP president Amit Shah addresses a press conference after releasing the party’s manifesto for the upcoming Chhattisgarh assembly elections, in Raipur yesterday.