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Chhattisgarh polls: Parties making promises around two commodities, rice and liquor

The ruling BJP, as well as its two main challenges -- the Congress and the Jogi-Mayawati combine -- are promising to offer cheaper rice to the consumers in the state which has been traditionally known as a 'rice bowl' of central India and where the incumbent chief minister is popularly called 'Chaur wale baba' (a man carrying rice).


Devdiscourse News Desk rajnandgaon Last Updated at 09-11-2018 16:40:08 IST India
Chhattisgarh polls: Parties making promises around two commodities, rice and liquor
  • The Ajit Jogi-led Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC), which has tied up with Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), also said it will provide subsidised rice and other food items if it forms the government in the state. (Image Credit: Twitter)

As poll-season heats up in Chhattisgarh, all major political parties are scrambling to woo the voters and some of their key promises centre around two commodities -- rice and liquor.

The ruling BJP, as well as its two main challenges -- the Congress and the Jogi-Mayawati combine -- are promising to offer cheaper rice to the consumers in the state which has been traditionally known as a 'rice bowl' of central India and where the incumbent chief minister is popularly called 'Chaur wale baba' (a man carrying rice).

At the same time, the opposition parties are accusing the BJP government in the state of having encouraged the sale of liquor and are promising the voters they will ban liquor to "save the future of the youth".

Political pundits say rice has always been a matter of politics in tribal-dominated Chhattisgarh. The state government is already providing rice at Re 1 and Rs 2 per kg to people of 'antyodaya' (very poor) and Below Poverty Line (BPL) categories, respectively.

Besides this, the state government also provides free salt to eligible families.

People living in the Naxal-affected Bastar and Sarguja areas of the state also get 'chana' (gram) at a subsidised cost of Rs 5 per kilogram to meet their nutrition need.

"BJP will continue to provide rice and other food items at the subsidised rate to help tribals and poor people of the state. A decision is likely to be taken to further rationalise these items and it may find mention in soon-to-be-released party manifesto," a party spokesperson said.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, whose 'chaur wale baba' image is being projected widely by his party for providing food items at affordable prices to the poor, is seeking a mandate for the record fourth time.

The Congress also feels that free distribution of rice can help in increasing its chances of victory in the polls.

"We will provide subsidised rice and ensure liquor ban in the state in case our government comes to power. There are certain shortcomings and corruption in the distribution of rice in the state by the ruling government," said Rajendra Tiwari, senior Congress leader and member of its state election committee.

Liquor has become another contentious political issue in the state. The Congress and other opposition parties have accused the BJP of spoiling the state's youths by allegedly ensuring easy availability of booze.

"This (BJP) government has spoiled the future of youths by making them addicted to liquor. We will ensure that youths are free from all sort of addiction and that they are skilled and employable," Tiwari said.

He said the Congress will also make a mandatory provision of reservation for locals in all government jobs if they come to power.

The Ajit Jogi-led Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC), which has tied up with Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), also said it will provide subsidised rice and other food items if it forms the government in the state.

"There is sentiment involved with rice. It has always been a matter of politics for parties. We will provide rice at a dirt-cheap rate or may be free to tribals. We will also ensure that some more food items are provided at a highly subsidised rate to the people of the state," JCC spokesperson Nitin Bhansali said.

He said that his party will also make sure that liquor is banned in the state.

Polls for 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly are scheduled to be held in two phases.

Voting will be held in 18 Assembly constituencies -- 12 in the Naxal-affected Bastar region and the remaining in Raman Singh's home turf Rajnandgaon -- is scheduled to be held on Monday, November 12. Polling for 72 seats will be held on November 20.

In the 2013 election, the BJP got 49 seats while the Congress secured 39. The BSP got one.

The Congress, however, improved its vote share to 40.29 per cent, compared with 38.63 per cent and 36.71 per cent in 2008 and 2003, respectively.

The BSP got 4.27 per cent of the total votes cast in 2013, down from what it got in 2008 and in 2003.

(With inputs from agencies.)


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