Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections are likely to be a direct two-way contest between the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party and main opposition Congress, while BSP and JCC alliance tries to play spoilsport. India TV-CNX Opinion Poll predicts that BJP will not make a comeback but will also add a seat to the tally, while Congress may lose some seats to Mayawati-Ajit Jogi team. But an anti-incumbency of 15 years is a massive mountain to climb and will require every bit of strength from Team Raman Singh to reach the top.
BJP or Congress, whoever comes back, faces several challenges in the state. Here is a look at five biggest obstacles before next Chhattisgarh government.
Chhattisgarh is the most affected state by left-wing extremism. The presence of Naxalite or Maoist insurgency has also hurt growth and is the reason why living standards remain so widely disparate from one district to another.
The basic facilities including better connectivity to other villages, good healthcare and education have been difficult to access. The government’s attempts to build roads in different areas for better connectivity with districts have often invited an exchange of fire, ambushes of workers & security personnel and lED blasts.
As per a 2014 survey, Chhattisgarh is the poorest state as over 47 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. The marginalised tribal population is increasingly being pushed into a state of poverty. Several tribal people have found it easier to migrate to big cities and work as labour but this has further reduced the per capita income, says a report.
According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s employment tracker, the state’s unemployment rate is the sixth highest in the country,
Unemployment is one of the key issue in Chhattisgarh as campaign issues before any election, not just in states but also on a country-wide basis.
Employment generation is also key to Chhattisgarh’s Naxalism problem as it can help pacify extremism. But despite the government’s efforts, the state’s unemployment rate is the sixth highest in the country, as of Oct. 2018,
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According to the state government's estimate, agriculture is the main source of income for almost 80 per cent of its population. Yet, agriculture contributes merely 18 per cent to the state’s gross domestic product. Government data says at least 1,500 farmers committed suicide in Chhattisgarh between 2015 and 2017.
Last year, 96 tehsils in 21 districts were declared drought-hit in September and Chhattisgarh received 12.8 per cent less rainfall, as compared to the last 10 years. Inadequate rainfall during the kharif season last year affected over 1.1 million farmers in the state.
The state's farmers are also far behind on the agrarian technology. A majority of farmers still use traditional farming methods and rely on monsoons, resulting in low growth and crop productivity. A hike in Minimum Support Price (MSP) and promise of 100 per cent paddy crop procurement have been among the chief demands by farmers in the state.
Despite high-levels of poverty and unemployment, the Raman Singh government has remained untarnished by any major scams for the majority of its tenure. But in past three years, three major scams have created a dent in BJP government clean image in the state. State government's name has cropped up in AugustaWestland chopper case and the Public Distribution Scheme scam, while CM Raman Singh's son has been named in Panama Papers, which revealed information about people who have off-shore bank accounts in Panama - a tax-haven. Opposition parties have used these allegations of corruption to their advantage during campaigning for this year's polls.
Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh to give the region's large Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe population adequate representation. However, the statehood seems to have done little to help the development in the state. But the state is still young and it has a long road ahead of it.
A state which has had only two CMs till date in undergoing fresh Assembly Elections, will it vote for change or stick with the old? The results will be revealed on December 11.
The polling in Chhattisgarh is being held in two phases. In first phase, 18 violence-affected seats saw a massive turnout of 60 to 70 per cent voters, despite several incidents of IED blasts and encounters.
The second phase polling in 72 assembly constituencies in Chhattisgarh will be held on November 20.