Rajnandgaon, November 8
What’s in a name? A lot, if the name to bank upon is Atal Bihari Vajpayee in this Assembly constituency of Chhattisgarh where Chief Minister Raman Singh of the BJP is pitted against Congress candidate Karuna Shukla, niece of the late former PM.
Both parties are trying hard to garner votes in Vajpayee’s name. While the ruling party leaders say the BJP and Vajpayee are “synonymous”, Shukla claims the state government is “miles apart” from the former PM’s teachings. “The BJP has changed its ‘chaal, charitra aur chehra’ (ways, character and face). It is no more a party envisaged by Atal ji and Advani ji and the people of the state know this,” she says. “There is no denying that I am Atal ji’s niece. I am guided by his principles. People in Rajnandgaon know that I will implement the model of good governance in the corruption-riddled state, if the Congress wins the elections,” Shukla, a former BJP central office-bearer, says. She quit the party in 2013 after over three decades of association and joined the Congress in February 2014. She unsuccessfully fought the Lok Sabha elections from the state’s Bilaspur seat on the party ticket.
The Congress has now fielded her from Rajnandgaon, the CM’s home turf. “Raman Singh calls me his sister. He claims that he is following the ideology of Vajpayee. As far as I know, this (state) government is miles apart from Atal ji’s teaching,” Shukla alleges.
Shukla accuses Singh of ignoring his home constituency. “It is a sorry state of affairs in Rajnandgaon where people face scarcity of water and access to other necessities. Corruption is rampant. People will root out this corrupt government this time,” she claims.
BJP leaders say Raman Singh will win the seat with a record margin. “Karuna ji left the BJP to join the Congress. People know this very well,” observes Sanjay Shrivastava, a senior BJP leader. The BJP is projected the election as a fight between a local and an outsider. — PTI