NDA prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were at loggerheads on Thursday as they entered the battleground in Chhattisgarh, where elections are scheduled for 11 November.
Modi addressed rallies in Bastar's Jagdalpur and Kanker and was slated for another address in Dongargarh. Gandhi spoke at Kondagaon in north Bastar.
The tribal-dominated state has 12 seats and has been a stronghold of the Bharatiya Janata Party since the last two terms.
In the first phase, 18 constituencies spread over eight districts in south Chhattisgarh will vote on 11 November and the remaining 72 constituencies will go to polls on 19 November. As many as 985 candidates are in the fray for 90 seats.
Highlights of Narendra Modi's speech at Bastar in Chhattisgarh
- Congress formed so many Governments but they never remembered tribal communities. It was Atal Bihari Vajpayee who after so many years made a different Ministry - Minister for Tribal affairs.
- Not just that, he set up new apparatus for the North East India as well.
- I still feel scared when I recall the three years of Congress rule in the state of Chhattisgarh after it was formed. Remember what happened to our Karyakartas (party workers) for protesting. Our leaders were in hospital. This was never seen anywhere in India.
- But I salute the people of Chhattisgarh. When the state voted for the first time they rejected that government.
- It is Chhattisgarh that has gone ahead during the last 10 years and the reason being - your vision that gave this state a political stability. Chhattisgarh progressed because you had faith in Raman Singh.
- Now times have changed. Do not vote for caste or creed but for development. The journey of development in Chhattisgarh cannot stop now. The pace at which it is developing must continue and that too at an even faster pace.
- These elections will lay the foundation of your future. So vote for development and bury the vote bank politics.
- People are opening lockers for putting coals and onion rather than jewellery because of the Congress. Do you trust the Congress and its promises? They promised to bring down prices in 100 days. Did that happen?
- Sometimes people don't recognise the name Dr Raman Singh. But say chaval vaaley baba and then they know instantly who he is. But Delhi Shehzaada (Rahul Gandhi) tries to take credit for the Food Security Bill. But it is here that one can see how food has reached people, due to Raman Singh.
- See what Dr Raman Singh did when Naxals attacked Congress leaders. He suspended his Yatra, he himself went to deceased homes. But look what happened in Patna. In contrast, the Bihar government reacted as if nothing happened. See the difference between a compassionate CM and a leadership filled with arrogance. Both are in front of you.
Highlights of Sonia Gandhi's speech at Bastar
- When Chhattisgarh was carved out 13 years ago, there was a lot of hope. You need to think what the BJP government has given you. Chhattisgarh is backward in every aspect of human development, be it education, health and infra indices.
- To fight Naxalism, our Congress leaders have sacrificed their lives here.
- There is one difference between Congress and BJP. BJP just talks big but Congress only works big. BJP talks of good governance but because of BJP's mis-governance in Chhattisgarh poverty has increased.
- We have brought in the Forest Rights Act, but people of Chhattisgarh have not benefitted adequately due to BJP misgovernance.
- Our UPA government has got new Land Acquisition Bill so that people benefit and are rehabilitated properly.
- We will give 35kg of rice free to every BPL family. Our tribal brothers and sisters will be directly benefitting from this (Food Security Bill) decision.
- In terms of security, the Chhattisgarh government just talks big and has no substance. There are law and order problems here. What has the government here done about it?
- For regions affected with Naxalism, there will be schemes for rehabilitation if we come to power.