Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003
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By Lalit Shastri
As the road from Bhopal meanders through the Berasia constituency and touches the Madhusudangarh area in the Raghogarh constituency, it dissolves into a dirt track and one is forced to continue with the back-breaking journey to reach Jamner, a village panchayat.
Talking to villagers here, one gathers that electricity is a major election issue. Some of them complained that the farmers have suffered a lot in the area due to insufficient electricity supply. Manoj Sen, who runs a barber shop in the heart of Jamner, told this correspondent that the shopkeepers are receiving huge electricity bills though the power supply is highly erratic. A villager from Gader, Veeramji, joined him in expressing anger over the electricity crisis.
Everyone here, however, did not join the chorus of complaints. Narendra Jain, owner of a readymade garments' shop, said the electricity bills were genuine and not bloated as was being projected by some people. He said that Raj Sahab (the Chief Minister) would be the automatic choice of the voters. According to him, this election would be a one-sided affair. However, these sentiments were not shared by another shopkeeper, Rakesh Kumar, who said that the wind of change is blowing across the constituency and people are not afraid to speak openly against the Chief Minister.
A huge crowd waited on the road passing through Jamner for several hours this afternoon to hear BJP's chief ministerial candidate, Uma Bharti. Her election meeting was delayed as the helicopter carrying her had landed a few kilometers away at Maksudangarh. The crowd applauded when Ms. Bharti said that once the BJP comes to power in the State, it would ban cow slaughter, re-induct the retrenched daily wagers, abolish professional tax, rationalise electricity bills and abolish the district governments to strengthen the village panchayats.
Later talking to media persons, Ms. Bharti asserted that "bad governance'' was the only issue in the elections. She further said that no matter how hard the Chief Minister tries to divert the issue, the people were not going to ignore the issue of development.
Ms. Bharti said that the Chief Minister "was stooping too low and was trying to malign her image by accusing her of saying things that she had never said in her election speeches''. She also circulated copies of a letter she had sent to the Election Commission in which she has written: "By attributing invectives and obscene language to a God-fearing lady, he (Mr. Singh) has been trying to malign my image as a woman and demean me in the eyes of the people in the State and country''.
The BJP's chief ministerial candidate said that the Election Commission should reprimand Mr. Singh for his "anti-woman posture'' during electioneering. "After making attempts to malign the senior BJP leader, Dilip Singh Judev's image in Chhattisgarh, the Chief Minister is now trying to malign my image'', Ms. Bharti added.
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