In the 2018 assembly elections, the common people had clearly given a mandate against the misgovernance of the BJP rule of the last 15 years and its communal and pro-corporate policies.
But as an opposition, BJP did not care about this mandate and worked only to pursue its communal policies. As a result, the common people of Chhattisgarh have still not forgotten the misrule of 15 years of BJP rule.
The problem of BJP is that it depends only on the communal politics of Hindutva as its support base. It resorts this to expand its support base after victory, and to get back its shrunken support base even after defeat.
It has nothing to do with the real problems of the common people or is concerned only with it so that it can carry forward its communal politics.
After the elections, former Chief Minister Raman Singh remained marginalized for the last five years. He was not even considered worthy of being the leader of the opposition.
Now he has definitely been given importance in ticket distribution, but still he is not the face of BJP. Now there are many faces in BJP including Brijmohan Agrawal, who have hidden in their hearts the desire to become the Chief Minister ; but no face is acceptable to the central leadership of BJP.
Therefore, in the elections that BJP is contesting in Chhattisgarh, the faces are only Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, who have made several visits to the state to instill enthusiasm among the cadres.
The BJP which was asking the Congress in the last elections as to who is its face in the state, is today avoiding this question in this election. It is clear that the defeat of BJP is going to be the defeat of Modi-Shah, which is going to ensure the defeat of BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Due to being away from power, there has been disintegration in the organization of BJP and with the distribution of tickets, the chaos has increased.
It has selectively given tickets to such people who have contributed in disturbing social harmony and communal polarization in their areas. It does not have a single candidate whose face is ‘liberal’. It wants to cross the electoral hurdle only through communal polarization.
This time the election slogan of BJP is:
Au Nai Sahibo, Badal Ke Rahibo (We will not tolerate any more, we will live by changing).
But this slogan is going to backfire on the BJP, because the people of the state are having to bear the adverse consequences arising out of the policies of the BJP rule at the Centre, due to which it is not going to give any chance to the BJP this time too.
The policy of the Center has been to harass the state. Modi government has withheld Rs 55,000 crore from Chhattisgarh under various heads including GST. This has affected the development of the state.
It has also stopped giving the outstanding bonus of two years of BJP rule, due to which farmers have suffered a loss of Rs 5000 crore. The maneuver to hand over the coal mines of Hasdev Aranya to Adani is still going on, against which the public protest and struggle is also going on.
Till date BJP has not been able to get rid of the stigma from paddy scam to NAN scam and coal scam. The Governor’s office is being used as a BJP office and the reservation bill passed by the Assembly is pending there.
This has caused huge resentment among the tribals, Dalits and backward classes. Central agencies like ED and CBI are also being used to intimidate the government.
During the then BJP rule, the people of Bastar had to pay the price in the form of Salwa Judum’s attack on their civil rights.
In this anti-tribal campaign, hundreds of villages were burnt, hundreds of women became victims of rape, fake cases were filed against thousands of people, hundreds were targeted in fake encounters.
Tribal people were pitted against tribal people. As a result, lakhs of people were forced to leave their homes and villages. The tribals of Bastar have still not forgotten that the then BJP government had refused to protect the lives and property of the people.
Even while being in opposition, it has tried to create communal polarization among the tribals and for this, the PESA law has been made a tool to attack their rights, whereas this law was made to ensure their ownership rights over the natural resources in the tribal areas.
Those tribals, who are followers of Christianity their churches have had attacked by the BJP-RSS in the name of opposing religious conversions, their bodies have been prevented from being buried in villages and their civil rights have been taken away by being socially boycotted.
Due to this oppression, hundreds of tribals have had to flee their villages. BJP is running a campaign to forcibly assimilate the tribals into Hinduism and for this it is carrying out a fierce movement to exclude non-Hindu tribals from the scope of reservation.
Just as the country’s wealth is being sold to increase the profits of corporates, in the same way the plan to sell the steel plant of Nagarnar is being implemented.
The BJP also bears the stigma of selling a prestigious public industry like Balco to a junkyard. Forest Conservation Act and Tribal Forest Rights Act are being weakened at the central level, so that the resources here can be handed over to corporates. Due to this, the very existence of tribals is in danger.
Today, the tribal community in Chhattisgarh is struggling to save their resources and lives, to save their constitutional rights and to protect human rights and for the supremacy of the Gram Sabha through the PESA law, and the BJP isweakeningg this struggle through its communal policies.
It wants to serve corporates like Adani-Ambani by supporting them. It has always attacked the human rights and constitutional rights of the tribals as a community and their civil rights as individuals.
It is a common belief that the key to power in Chhattisgarh is in the hands of Bastar and even in this election, Bastar is not ready to give this key to BJP.
BJP has been calling the announcements made by the opposition parties in the interest of the common people as ‘Ravdie Banto’, it has opened the box of ravdies in the name of “Modi’s Guarantee” in its manifesto.
It has announced that after coming to power, it will purchase 20 quintals of paddy per acre at the rate of Rs 3100 and will give the outstanding bonus of two years for the year 2016-18 and will give a gas cylinder for Rs 500. But the common people is understanding this ‘JUMLEBAAZI’.
Their direct question is why did he not take steps to provide relief to the common people while being in power for 15 years? They are asking who laid nails on the path of the farmers demanding support price of one and a half times the gross cost, who stopped giving bonus on paddy production while he was in power and who has been increasing the prices of gas, diesel and petrol for the last nine years.
While being in power and in the opposition for the last five years, the BJP has done only communal polarization and has not fought for any problem of the common people, then why is that BJP remembering the people now at the time of elections? Why is it opening such a ‘box of guarantees’ which it has been rejecting till now?
However, Congress has also not lived up to the expectations of the common people. It has proved unsuccessful in taking action against those responsible for the violence against tribals during the BJP rule.
The implementation of the Forest Rights Act is abysmal and the PESA rules are designed in such a way that they go against the spirit of the original Act.
Despite this, the steps taken by the Congress government through ‘NYAY schemes’ in the field of agriculture have had a positive impact in the rural areas.
During the election campaign itself, Congress has promised to waive off the loans of farmers, increase the wages of tendu leaf collectors and give them bonus, give subsidy on gas cylinders to women, buy 20 quintals of paddy per acre at the rate of Rs 3200 per quintal, etc. This is being called a ‘master stroke’ of Congress in political circles. Overall, Congress has an upper hand over BJP in the election campaign.
It seems that this time the Left will have presence in the Assembly. There is a strong possibility of victory of Manish Kunjam, an independent candidate contesting from Bastar’s Konta and having a leftist background. He has the support of both the parties – CPI(M) and CPI.
If this happens, the Left will have a credible presence in the Assembly against the backdrop of continuous attacks on tribal rights and against the communal and pro-corporate politics of the BJP, which will also put pressure on the Congress to behave as per public expectations.
The presence of the Left in the Assembly will help in taking forward the struggles taking place on the legitimate demands of the common mass across Chhattisgarh. It will raise its voice in favor of democracy, Constitution, and tribal rights and against the corporate plunder of Chhattisgarh’s resources.
Writer is the convenor of Chhattisgarh Kisan Sabha – CGKS.