Raipur: Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel appealed to the people of Chhattisgarh to come out in large numbers as voting for the second phase of the state assembly elections on 70 seats began on Friday morning under a thick security blanket of police and paramilitary personnel.
In an interview with PTI Videos, Baghel exuded confidence that the Congress would retain the state, winning more than 75 of the 90 seats.
Baghel asserted that though he has been projected as the face of Congress in Chhattisgarh, the party high command will decide who the CM will be if they are voted to power.
“The second phase of the assembly election on 70 seats is underway today and people must participate in this festival of democracy. Considering the welfare of farmers, youths, women and labourers, people must come out of their homes and reach polling stations to exercise their franchise in large numbers,” he said.
He said their poll promises, including procurement of 20 quintals of paddy per acre from farmers at the rate of Rs 3,200 per quintal, farm loan waiver, KG (kindergarten) to PG (post-graduation) free education, an annual dole of Rs 10,000 to landless labourers and annual assistance of Rs 15,000 to women under ‘Gruh Lakshmi’ scheme, will favour the Congress in polls.
Asked about the timing of the launch of the Gruh Lakshmi scheme, which was announced on November 12 after the first phase of voting (on November 7), he said, “We had such schemes in other Congress-ruled states, including Karnataka. The announcement was done on the occasion of Diwali, which holds significance.” “People are satisfied with the works done by our government in the interest of farmers, labourers, youth, and women, and this time, we are going to win 75-plus seats,” he said.
Queried whether he would continue to be the CM if the Congress wins, Baghel said the election is being contested projecting him as the party's face but the high command will decide “further” (who the CM will be).
Voting began at 8 am in 70 constituencies for the second phase of polls which will decide the electoral fate of political heavyweights like Baghel, his deputy TS Singh Deo, eight state ministers, and four members of Parliament.
Baghel has been contesting from his traditional Patan seat, where the BJP has fielded his distant nephew and party MP Vijay Baghel. The candidature of Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) state president and son of former chief minister Ajit Jogi, Amit Jogi, in Patan has added a new dimension to the contest.