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It's party time in Chhattisgarh!
Jyoti Shukla in Risda-Kokari |
December 01, 2003 17:53 IST
Last Updated: December 01, 2003 20:41 IST
If anybody thought the people of Chhattisgarh were lacking interest in this first ever assembly election in their newly formed state, they were wrong.
Chhatisgarh Assembly has 90 seats -- Congress 48, BJP 24 (The tally originally was 36. Twelve MLAs crossed over to the Congress) and BSP 3, independents 2 and Gondwana Ganatantra Party one.
The parties won the seats during the 1998 assembly election conducted in undivided Madhya Pradesh.
This assembly election has seen emergence of another party, Nationalist Congress Party, which has been formed by rebel Congress leaders. Punters expect the party to cut into the Congress votebank.
Three districts of Chhattisgarh -- Raipur (13 seats), Bilaspur (10 seats) and Durg (11 seats) -- make a big chunk of Chhattisgarh assembly. These are densely populated, urban areas with high literacy rate.
Another place of importance is the Bastar division, which includes Bastar, Dantewada and Kanker districts, where the fight is on for 12 seats.
All the seats in this division are reserved for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates.
Parties ended their campaign by intensely wooing voters. The parties also reportedly distributed liquor to voters.
One old man who came to the Congress election office in Baloda Bazar told rediff.com that he will 'offer' six votes of his family if liquor was given to him.
The morning started off on a festive note, with many venturing out in their finery. The political awareness of the people was on display when two villagers stopped my vehicle and complained they were not allowed to cast their votes.
After explaining they needed at least their ration card for voting, they went back grumbling to get their cards. But the incident provoked a question.
How did these people who don't even speak Hindi recognise the word "press" on the vehicle?
Well, that's Indian democracy at its best for you.