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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Congress asks voters in poll-bound Chhattisgarh: Is state ours or Adani’s?

'The question is, is the state ours or Adani’s? Doesn’t this state belong to the people of Chhattisgarh?'

Sanjay K. Jha New Delhi Published 30.10.23, 05:24 AM
Bhupesh Baghel.

Bhupesh Baghel. File Photo

The absence of a face to the BJP’s campaign in Chhattisgarh, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to keep the focus on himself, has allowed the Congress to project the electoral battle as a struggle to protect the state from the Adani group.

Chief minister Bhupesh Baghel has woven a Centre-versus-Chhattisgarh narrative, portraying himself as the victim of a coercive Modi government that has unleashed the Enforcement Directorate and income-tax authorities on him. But he has kept Adani at the centre of the discourse instead of directly targeting the Prime Minister.

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Baghel capped this strategy on Sunday with a blunt question: “Is the state ours or Adani’s?”

Addressing a rally along with Rahul Gandhi in Rajnandgaon, Baghel said: “Sawal ey baat ke hai ki pradesh hamar hare ki Adani ke hare (The question is, is the state ours or Adani’s)? Doesn’t this state belong to the people of Chhattisgarh?

“Should the resources we have be ours or Adani’s? Ab ki karna hai: Chhattisgarh ne bachana hai ki Chhattisgarh ne bechwana hai (What is to be done now: save Chhattisgarh or sell Chhattisgarh)?”

He added: “There are two paths: one laid out by Rahul Gandhi, who wants to work for the poor; and one laid out by Narendra Modi, who works for Adani.”

Baghel said the previous Raman Singh government in Chhattisgarh and the Centre had handed over many mines to Adani.

“They are running a vilification campaign against me to somehow grab power and hand over the rest of the natural resources to Adani,” he alleged.

Baghel has built up a voluble campaign around Modi’s alleged plan to hand the Nagarnar Steel Plant in Bastar over to Adani.

Rahul Gandhi with farm workers in Chhattisgarh.

Rahul Gandhi with farm workers in Chhattisgarh. PTI picture

He invokes Chhattisgarhiya pride at every meeting and projects the central government as an aggressor, trying to hoist Modi with his own petard. As Gujarat chief minister, Modi had played on Gujarati pride while portraying the Centre as an oppressive “Delhi Sultanate”.

Rahul and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge have been supplementing Baghel’s strategy by projecting the BJP as pro-rich and flagging Modi’s contempt for welfare politics.

At Sunday’s rally in Chhattisgarh, Rahul said: “Loans taken by the rich worth Rs 14.50 lakh crore have been written off by the central government. Has the BJP waived farmers’ loans in any state?

“Modi keeps doing Adani-Adani-Adani 24 hours a day. Mines, ports, airports… they want to give everything to Adani. Laws are made to help Adani. The (now revoked) farm laws were an example.

“The people have to decide, bachane wali sarkar chahiye ya bechne wali sarkar (do you want a government that protects or one that sells everything).

“Is there any promise we made in 2018 that has not been fulfilled? We went to a farm in the morning. Agriculture workers said the Rs 7,000 they are receiving every year under the Rajiv Gandhi Nyay Yojana is too little. We instantly decided to increase the amount to Rs 10,000.”

Kharge, addressing a rally in Telangana, said: “We don’t make false promises to mislead the voters. Go to Karnataka and check whether or not the guarantees we gave are being implemented. We are committed to the welfare of the poor.

“Modi promised two crore jobs every year and is now distributing a few thousand appointment letters after nine years. His betrayal destroyed the lives of the youth. All he has done is sell the public sector units built by the Congress.”

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