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Chhattisgarh: Khairagarh bypolls, the battle converts into Baghel vs BJP

The announcement from the CM to convert Khairagarh into a district if Congress wins has created twist in the political battle

AVDHESH MALLICK | Updated on: Saturday, April 09, 2022, 12:47 PM IST

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Khairagarh assembly by-polls, which will be held on April 12, 2022 has now entered its final phase. Campaigning for the respective candidates became intense and touched the melting point. Amid this, the Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel played master stroke and said, the constituency will be converted into district just within a day if his candidate Yashoda Verma declared as a winner. It has converted the triangular fight into a bipolar or a major contest concentrated between Congress and BJP.

Moreover, the seat was running vacant with the demise of MLA of Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (JCJ) Devwrat Singh in November 2021.

Political analysts said, CM Baghel’s announcement has not only hijacked the advocacy campaign of Narendra Soni, the candidate of JCJ, who advocated and fought to make Khairgarh a district in the past but also snatched his sympathy votes. Soni was brother in law of erstwhile MLA Khairagarh Devwrat Singh. The announcement also polarized votes. Instead of making the political battle candidate dependent or specific, Congress succeeded in turning the battle into Baghel versus BJP, the analyst said.

Instead of including big names from AICC Delhi, Congress preferred local leaders to campaign as star campaigners. Despite names like Chandan Yadav, Chhattisgarh Congress in-charge and PL Punia, AICC leader included in the list CM Baghel was chosen as main star campaigner.

Alternative to large mass gatherings, CM Baghel focused on small public meetings where he provocatively targeted ex-CM Raman Singh and Prime Minister Modi policies. He directly attacked BJP leaders, their policies and termed them anti-people, anti-Chhattisgarhiya.

In reply to BJP’s strength on the ground, the CM fielded all the top brass leaders of Chhattisgarh State Congress into Khairagarh includes big influential faces such as cabinet Minister Ravindra Choubey, Kawasi Lakhma, Anila Bhediya, Tamradhwaj Sahu, MLA Satyanarayan Sharma, Vikash Upadhyay and others.

To counter the increased might of Congress Party, BJP also deployed 40 renowned faces on the grounds of Khairagarh, including Union Minister Prahalad Patel, Jyotiraditya Scindia, CM Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh. It also includes local faces like ex-CM Raman Singh, ex-Minister Brijmohan Agarwal, Nitin Navin, D Purandeswari and others.

Moreover, in Khairagarh town both parties have opened their offices close to each other, but political analysts said, BJP is facing difficulty in fighting Congress strategy.

Meanwhile, the voters in Khairagarh are not revealing their cards or opinions over whom they vote or will win. While interacting with several people on the ground it was found that people were more interested in discussing the benefits or loss of making Khairagarh a district. Khairagarh is a part of District Rajnandgaon.

However, the final winner will be declared after the counting of votes on April 16.

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Published on: Saturday, April 09, 2022, 12:47 PM IST