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Corporates relax as campaigning ends in Chhattisgarh

April 23, 2019 11:30 IST

The high-pitched election speeches skipped corporate issues, unlike during the assembly polls about four months ago.
R Krishna Das reports.

IMAGE: A bride shows her inked finger at Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh. Photograph: PTI Photo

Sitting in his plush office in Raipur, a senior vice-president of a leading corporate house is relieved as the poll campaign ended Sunday evening.

The reason for his relief is that the high-pitched election speeches skipped corporate issues, unlike during the assembly polls about four months ago.

Of the seven Lok Sabha constituencies that will go to the polls in the third and final phase of election in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday, April 23, corporate influences work in four of them.

All major industries, besides mining operations, are located in those constituencies.

"In the assembly election, the issues of forest rights violation, land acquisition and rehabilitation figured during campaigns but they were missing this time," says rights activist Alok Shukla.

The campaign was confined to national issues, against people's expectations, he adds.

 

As promised before the polls, the Congress returned to the villagers the lands acquired for the abandoned Tata Steel project in Bastar after coming to power.

People in the Sarguja, Janjgir, Korba and Raigarh constituencies (four of the seven seats) were expecting the party would make a similar announcement for four major power projects that came to grief despite land acquisition.

Besides Moser Baer and Visa Power, land had been acquired for Iffco (Indian Farmers Fertilisers Cooperative) and South Korean company Daewoo. None of the companies executed the plans, and all pulled out.

Like the case of Tata Steel, the villagers were expecting the Congress would announce or the BJP would demand returning their land.

The senior vice-president said in the state polls, local issues dominated.

Given Tata Steel's issue and the Congress raking up mining and land acquisition, companies in Chhattisgarh feared they would be under the scanner even in the Lok Sabha election, he says, adding, that they now felt relaxed.

Former chief minister and Chhattisgarh Janta Congress Chief Ajit Jogi followed Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi in spilling out the coal mines allocation issue.

'The coal mines will not be safe under the Congress regime,' Jogi said.

However, Jogi's Congress baiting will be no gain for the BJP because he opted out of the Lok Sabha election when the BJP was looking to split the Congress vote.

Unlike the four that went to the polls in the first and second phases, Jogi had a strong influence in the seven constituencies and could have played a spoiler for the Congress.

R Krishna Das
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