Bilaspur/Kota (Chhattisgarh), Oct 11: The election to the assembly constituency of Kota under Bilaspur district in Chhattisgarh is heading for a photo finish.
Excitement is really building up on whether the contest will finally zero down between Ajit Jogi’s wife – Renu Jogi – and an old RSS hand Purna Chhabaria.
This is a strong Congress or for that matter Ajit Jogi’s fiefdom. Is there already a mood for change among the electorate?
The brown hazy, dusty roads in the forested region and about 30 km drive from busy commercial town Bilaspur reflects that the 15-year old story of statehood have kept some parts of the state with a minimum dose of development.
“People have decided, they want to change the state of affairs here," says 40-year-old tribal Krishnbhakt Majhwar.
Like him, many locals complain – the native tribals and common citizens have skills both as individuals and also with ‘organisational ability’ but the true potentials have not made use of”.
Kota assembly segment has been a Congress bastion and despite 15-year rule in the state since 2003, the BJP has not able to create a space for itself.
'The seat is general but tribals and Dalits make substantial numbers of electorate. None other than Renu Jogi, wife of state’s first Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, is representing the seat since 2006 by-polls,' says local BJP worker Kamal Kumar.
But while Kumar says the pro-change mood in the assembly segment and also adjoining areas would help the BJP, locals say the people are fed up with both – the BJP government at the state level and also the sitting MLA – and a powerful legislator with right connections.
'We common people find ourselves at crossroads. Senior citizens in these localities say many youth have left the state for good -- to look for employment in Raipur, Bhopal or even far off Mumbai,' says Rajen Pandey, a shopkeeper.
However, the political pundits are keeping their fingers crossed as nothing is sure yet whether Renu Jogi, wife of Ajit Jogi who has floated Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC), will get Congress ticket or not.
A section of Congress leaders have pushed the candidature of Shailesh Pandey, a former senior official in the university, to contest from Kota. The idea seems to be to show Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s snub to Renu Jogi – as Mr Pandey was generally keen for the ticket for Bilaspur township.
The predicament for the voters does not end here. Even from the BJP stock – serious efforts are on to ‘wrest’ this seat.
According to insiders in the saffron party camp – the RSS leaders including the likes of veteran Gopal Vyas have been working “silently” to win over the voter towards the saffron camp.
Sources said even BJP chief Amit Shah has met senior RSS leaders in Chhattisgarh and both sides have tried poll strategy to make impact especially among the young voters and also women.
In 2013, Kashi Ram Sahu was BJP nominee but the party does not rule out replacing him and the ticket this time may be given to a leader with RSS background – who has “worked sincerely for years staying away from mike, stage and garland”.
All these indicate the BJP could bank on the RSS reputation and thus field an old Sangh hand Purna Chhabaria. (UNI)