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Congress ahead in Rajasthan, MP: Survey
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi | October 01, 2003 15:08 IST
Initial electoral gains made by the Bharatiya Janata Party in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan has been 'neutralised' with the Congress recapturing lost ground in the two states, the latest government intelligence report indicated on Wednesday.
Such reports are conducted by the Intelligence Bureau every two to four weeks, a top home ministry official told rediff.com
He pointed out that the central government routinely conducts such periodic surveys six months before any election to get a feedback on the ground realities.
The official said Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh's government earlier faced a pronounced anti-incumbency factor aggravated by the acute power shortage in the state.
Such was the people's disenchantment that they made power the primary electoral issue. However, Singh recouped lost ground by repeated announcements of purchasing power from outside and distributing it in the power-starved areas, the official added.
Besides, Singh's direction to the state power board to restore connection of up to five horse power to irrigation pumps and single-point light connection to consumers willing to install power meters is paying dividends.
Clarifying that although it was a sop, the official pointed out that it has had a positive effect on the people whose resentment against the Singh government has come down.
He contended that in contrast, the BJP's campaign against the Congress government had to be better organised as local animosities within the state party unit was acting as a dampener.
The BJP's chief ministerial candidate Uma Bharti's vigorous campaign for the Ram temple in Ayodhya is a constant refrain but her criticism of the lack of local developmental efforts has not had much effect.
"As of now, the Congress and BJP appear evenly balanced in the electoral race," the official emphasised, adding that the picture could change either way within a fortnight in the 230-member state assembly.
In Rajasthan, the Congress has gained from the excessive rainfall this year. The official said the Ashok Gehlot government's incentives to farmers, especially on water management, has brought good results.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi's visit to the state a fortnight ago enthused farmers and her campaign for the party was well-received, he said.
He pointed out that the issue of reservation for the economically poor among the upper caste had been used by both parties in an attempt to attract votes.
The electoral picture in Chhattisgarh had become complicated with National Congress Party leader Vidya Charan Shukla joining the fray to challenge Congress Chief Minister Ajit Jogi.
The home ministry official said Shukla had his pockets of influence in the state while Jogi's electoral prospects had been rudely jolted by the ongoing controversy over his alleged forgery of a tribal certificate.
While the BJP was disorganised in the state, its possible alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party could upset Jogi's applecart.
He said despite the chief minister's claims of invincibility, the poll results could throw up a hung assembly.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit has a clear edge over her BJP rival Madan Lal Khurana according to the official. Her 'excellent' equation with Sonia, coupled with her quiet, effective style of functioning is poised to witness her party retaining power, he pointed out.
More reports from Madhya Pradesh
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