RAIPUR: The Lok Sabha elections in Chhattisgarh where the BJP suffered a huge debacle in the assembly polls after ruling for 15 years will test the popularity and strength of PM Narendra Modi even as the BJP has gone for an unprecedented experiment replacing all 10 sitting MPs with fresh faces.
Amid the new set of BJP faces in the poll fray, the elections are being played out on a 'pro and anti-Modi' platform with the Congress led by CM Bhupesh Baghel harping on its two-month performance.
In Chhattisgarh, a level playing field appears to have emerged with lightweight versus lightweight as there is no seat with two big names in the bipolar contest between the Congress and the BJP. With no wave seen in Chhattisgarh this time, the BJP after having lost ground during the assembly polls is heavily banking on Modi’s magic.
Across the state, it’s mostly Modi and his pledges seen on billboards. The party replaced former chief minister Raman Singh under whose leadership the BJP tailored its campaign —‘Raman par vishwas, kamal sang vikas’, during the assembly elections. “There remains a national sentiment to make Modiji the Prime Minister again. The elections are being contested based on his widely acceptable image and accomplishments. BJP will register a decisive victory in Chhattisgarh,” said Raman Singh.
A pro-change mood in favour of Congress and a subtle undercurrent against the BJP largely owing to the fatigue that came from the continuation in power for 15 years led to the BJP losing the plot in the assembly polls.
The Congress believes the “anti-incumbency persisting against the BJP” and the strong thrust on the party’s achievements during the first two months in power in Chhattisgarh will lead to a “dramatic turnaround” for it.
Since 2004 onwards, the BJP has been winning 10 of the eleven Lok Sabha seats in Chhattisgarh with the remaining one going to the Congress.
The state BJP, however, hopes that by pitching issues like nationalism and terrorism, the party can counter anti-incumbency against it even as the leaders believed Modi’s “popularity” will work in favour of the party in the tough contest.
The local issues that were effective during the assembly elections remain largely obscured.
“Let the voters compare 60 days of Congress with 60 months of BJP at the Centre. We delivered what we promised and not do jumlebaji (gimmicks) like PM Modi”, the chief minister Bhupesh Baghel said.