BJP sets Chhattisgarh poll ball rolling, to hold chintan shivir in Bastar district

Even as incumbent Congress battles internal strife in Chhattisgarh, BJP has set the ball rolling for the next assembly elections with a chintan shivir in Jagdalpur — its first such session in tribal-dominated and Maoist-affected Bastar district.

BJP, which was in power from 2003 to 2018 in Chhattisgarh, has initiated Mission 2023 to energise its cadre and tap the vast tribal belt, where it has consistently lost all influence.

Speaking exclusively to ET, three-time former Chhattisgarh chief minister and BJP national vice-president Raman Singh said: “This is the first chintan shivir which will be held outside Raipur. So far, we have always held it in the state capital. But, this time, we felt that we should hold this in Bastar.”

With the two-day chintan shivir on September 1 and 2 in Bastar’s district headquarter Jagdalpur, BJP hopes to energise the party in the tribal belt. “We have been spearheading several protests against the Congress government’s policies. Recently, we held protests across the state on fertiliser shortage. Now, there is a famine in the state. We have been raising these issues consistently. But there is a need to further mobilise the party and prepare a roadmap for 2023. We will decide on this in the chintan shivir.”

The session will be attended by BJP national joint general secretary (organisation) Shiv Prakash, national general secretary BL Santhosh, national general secretary incharge D Purandeswari and co-incharge Nitin Nabin Sinha.

Singh said the session will lay out how the party workers should bring out the unfulfilled promises made by the Congress. “Our state has been devastated by Covid-19. In all other states, the governments have given monetary compensation to the next of kin of those who succumbed to Covid-19. The Congress government has not done anything on this. It was only AIIMS that held our Covid-19 management together. But the rest of the facilities are in a pathetic condition and are already overwhelmed. All these failures need to be brought out effectively,” Singh told ET. He said the Congress had promised a complete liquor ban in Chhattisgarh, but was now home delivering it.

The question of a chief ministerial face is plaguing the BJP in Chhattisgarh. Singh, however, did not make much of the controversy triggered by Purandeswari last month when she said that the decision would be taken after the election by the legislature party. “There is nothing new in what the general secretary incharge said. BJP has never projected a chief ministerial face when it goes for elections. This decision is taken by the elected MLAs in a meeting after the elections. This is the tradition of BJP. If a general secretary is asked who will be the CM what will she say? She will say what BJP has been following in all states always — we do not have a CM face.”

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