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But an APN-C-Voter study has revealed 62.1 percent in the state want a change of guard as far as the prime minister is concerned while only 37.7 percent want Narendra Modi to continue

On the weekend before the first phase of the state assembly polls, the BJP seems to be losing its winning edge in Chhattisgarh. An APN-C-Voter survey has revealed 62.1 percent in the state want a change of guard as far as the prime minister is concerned while only 37.7 percent want Narendra Modi to continue, though when it comes to the state elections only 36.6 percent would vote for the Congress while 37.7 percent would go with the BJP, with a significant proportion of the populace still undecided. Chhattisgarh, with its 37 districts, has 90 seats.

Anant Tyagi on Saturday led a special show covering the five state elections with a panel of BJP leader Dr Vijay Khera, Congressman Mudit Agarwal, and Piyush Pant, Tapan Bharti and Govind Pant Raju, all senior journalists. Each opined on the likelihood of Dr Raman Singh becoming chief minister of the state for a record fourth time, at a time when Mayawati’s BSP has joined forces with the Chhattisgarh Janhit Congress led by rebel Ajit Jogi. Dr Singh and Madhya Pradesh’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan have both governed for three terms but Dr Singh is senior to Chouhan in that he has been in office for 15 years in comparison to Chouhan’s 13. The debate opened with Dr Khera holding that should he remain healthy, Dr Singh would remain CM for another 30 years. This is because he has brought a storm of development.

To this, Agarwal from the Congress said that it was truly admirable that the party had reorganised itself after losing its entire top leadership to a Maoist attack in May 2013 and that was evident from the slim margin projected in the pre-poll survey. He said that the storm Dr Khera had been referring to was not one of development but one of corruption, what with the 2011 public distribution system scam and his son’s role in it. He also recalled that Dr Singh was a replacement for Dilip Singh Judeo who was caught on camera accepting bribe for granting a mining lease and had likened inducements to divinity.

But Raju said if the Congress has managed to exploit the anti-incumbency wave, not getting Jogi over to its side was equally a setback for it, a big defeat. Maywati as well as the Gondwana Ganatantra Party were forces to reckon with, and would prove to be spoilers, he said.

The main issues on the basis of which the elections are being fought are water (6.1 percent are exercised by it), roads (11.5 percent), jobs and small businesses (29.4 percent), agriculture (8.6 percent) and rise in prices (4.4 percent). A total of 30 percent of the voters were unhappy about employment opportunities, according to the survey, while 12.7 percent were angry with the local administration about governance issues. As many as 49.2 percent were miffed with the state administration on similar matters.

Chouhan, however, remained the CM face of the state with 45.3 percent favouring him over Ajit Jogi who was liked by 35.1 percent, with TS Singhdeo and Charandas Mahant from Congress and Saroj Pant from BJP being other names in contention. The first phase of the elections will take place on November 12 and the second and final one on November 20. Results will be out on December 11.

Piyush Pant said that in Chhattisgarh, the entire Congress leadership has been wiped out by the Maoists, so the party stands to lose in the state. But it has been gaining overall, in other states as well as the national level, and so the momentum is in its favour.

Bharti said that the BJP has reached electricity to every village of the state. But roads and pollution remain important issues, and so it will be a neck-and-neck fight.

Aside from APN-CVoter which gave 43 seats to BJP and 41 to Congress, CNX gave 50 to BJP and 30 to Congress, while the CSDS survey gave 56 seats to BJP and 25 to the Indian grand old party in this state.

—Compiled by Sucheta Dasgupta

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