With Assembly elections just six months away, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh are set to flag off a ‘Vikas Yatra’ from Dantewada on Saturday. The yatra comes just five days before Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s two-day trip to Chhattisgarh, on May 17 and 18.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, the Chief Minister said the objective of the yatra was to showcase the “vikas” (development) in the state over the last 15 years and to juxtapose where “the state was in 2003, and has reached in 2018”. Singh came to power in 2003 by defeating the Congress, led by then chief minister Ajit Jogi.”
“We will show them that in 2003, there was a feeling of fear, of terror across the state, and how that has changed,” the chief minister said. According to BJP sources, during the first phase of the yatra — from May 12 to June 12 — the BJP will hold roadshows in 65 vidhan sabhas in the state. The second phase, which will begin from August 16 and continue till September 30, will see star campaigners like senior party ministers Narendra Tomar, Dharmendra Pradhan and Smriti Irani. Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh), Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh) and Raghubar Das (Jharkhand) are also expected to join the yatra at different points.
In the second phase, 55 lakh free smartphones will be distributed under the Sanchar Kranti Yojana — a move that, party sources say, will be the government’s big-ticket to woo the youths ahead of the elections. The government will also distribute a paddy bonus to farmers and inaugurate projects worth several hundred crores during the yatra.
Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress will launch a counter-campaign — ‘Vikas Khojo Yatra’ — to “expose” the state government’s development record over the past 15 years.
Earlier, state Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel said the notion of “vikas” in Chhattisgarh is “fictional”, adding that most parts of of the state remained poor and far away from the reach of government programmes. The opposition leaders had also attacked the state government for using taxpayers money for BJP propaganda. In a sharp retort, the Chief Minister said: “They cannot even recognise ‘vikas’. In my opinion, those who negate vikas, negate the cause of the people.”