Campaigning for second phase in C'garh poll ends

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Raipur, Nov 18 (UNI) Campaigning for the second and last phase of Assembly elections in 51 constituencies of Chhattisgarh, scheduled for November 20, ended this evening.

Both the Congress and the BJP had left no stone unturned and engaged their leaders and star campaigners in electioneering to woo the voters.

No major issue was taken up during the elections but the BJP highlighted achievements of the Raman Singh government, including distributing rice at Rs 3 per kg and accelerating the pace of development.

On the other hand, the Congress raked up the issue of corruption and misuse of central funds during the five-year-rule of the BJP.

The Congress assured people that it was the only party that could provide clean and development-oriented government in tribal-dominated state.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who did not take part during campaign for the first phase, however, addressed a public meeting at Kharsia in Raigarh district today.

BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Lal Krishna Advani addressed several election meetings on the last day.

An estimated 8.8 million voters would choose their representatives for 51 seats spread out in 8 districts of northern parts of the state at 12,073 polling booths. There are 687 candidates, including 50 females, in the fray.

Of the total candidates 42 are crorepatis, while criminal cases are pending against 53 candidates.

Prominent candidates, whose fate would be decided in the second phase of polling, include former Chief Minister and star Congress campaigner Ajit Jogi (Marwahi), his wife Renu Jogi (Kota), senior Congress leader Nand Kumar Patel (Kharsia), state Congress President Dharmendra Sahu (Abhanpur), state ministers and ruling BJP candidates Ramvichar Netam (Ramanujganj), Braj Mohan Agarwal (Raipur-south), Amar Agarwal (Bilaspur city), deputy speaker and Congress candidate Badridhar Diwan (Beltara) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state president Novel Verma (Chandrapur).

The BJP, which pressed into action several top leaders for campaigning, was front runner in election meetings.

On the other hand, the Congress, which showed some laxity during campaigning for the first phase, roped in several leaders from other states to strengthen their canvassing.

Mr Advani, party president Rajnath Singh, vice-president Venkaiah Naidu and general secretary Sushma Swaraj, along with Chief Minister Raman Singh, held several election meetings everyday.

Former BJP President Murli Manohar Joshi and several other party leaders, including cine star Shatrughan Sinha and cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, campaigned in different constituencies.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi addressed four election meetings yesterday, while party leaders Digvijay Singh, Sriprakash Jaiswal and several others were touring various constituencies.

Mr Jogi addressed eight to nine election meetings daily, while Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Rajsekhara Reddy and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupindra Singh Hooda had also put their strength for the Congress.

The BSP, which has fielded candidates from all 90 seats, organised a public meeting in Bilaspur yesterday where the party supremo and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati addressed the voters.

Leaders of the CPI, CPI(M), Samajwadi Party and other smaller parties also campaigned in the state, though they mainly focused on village to village or door-to-door canvassing.

Bhatgaon Assembly segment in Sarguja district has the highest number of 29 candidates, while Pathalgaon seat in Jashpur district has the minimum of seven candidates.

The first phase of polling in 39 constituencies of 10 districts in southern parts of the state was held on November 14 during which 68 per cent electorate exercised their franchise.

Counting of votes of all the 90 seats would be held on December 8.


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