New Delhi, Nov 8: Stakes are very high for the leaders of the Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on seven seats in the first phase of elections in Chhattisgarh. Elections on 18 seats will be held in the first phase.
Political veterans in Rajnandgaon, Narainpur, Bijapur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Dantewara and Konta seats are facing tough electoral battle. The most interesting electoral battle is between state chief minister Raman Singh and Congress candidate Karuna Shukla who is niece of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
After the death of Vajpayee, if the BJP is talking about Atal Vision Paper of 2022 for a new Chhattisgarh then Karuna Shukla is making the issue of disrespect of ashes of the late Prime Minister. Raman Singh tried to create environment in his favour by inviting Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath while over a dozen of star campaigners have already campaigned for Karuna Shukla. Voters have to take a decision between the BJP and niece of Vajpayee.
Minister in the Raman Singh government Kedar Kashyap and Congress candidate Chandan Kashyap are face to face in Narainpur who had slugged it out in the last Assembly election as well in which Kedar had won the election over 12000 votes. The Congress is taking up local issues to corner Kedar Kashyap who is minister in the government for past 15 years while Chhattisgarh Janata Congress-BSP candidate Baliram Kashyap has made the battle interesting.
Another minister in the Raman Singh government Mahesh Gagra is pitted against Congress' Vikram Madavi who had given tough fight to Gagra in the last elections. Bijapur seat has been in the limelight amid Naxal attacks. The BJP has succeeded in winning over its rebels and activated its organisation for possible sabotage. Senior leaders have been entrusted with the responsibility to look after the matter. Four-time Congress MLA from Konta Kavasi Lakhma is in the fray against BJP's Dhaniram Barse and they had a tough electoral battle last time. The battle has become triangular with CPI's Manish Kunjam joining it.
The BJP has denied ticket to its MLA Bhojraj Nag and replaced him with Lok Sabha member Vikram Usendi in Antagarh. Usendi has been constantly winning elections from the region while the Congress reposed its faith on first timer Anup Nag. In the by-election of Antagarh, the Congress candidate Manturam Panwar withdrew his nomination after that this seat became popular across the country.
In Dantewara, wife of Mahendra Karma is once again contesting election as after the killing of Karma in Jhiram Valley incidence, she contested election and had won. This time BJP has placed Bhima Mandavi against Devti Karma. The battle became interesting with CPI's Nandaram Sori joining the fray.