Bilha: The slow pace of development in rural areas may cost BJP its seat in Bilha constituency in Chhattisgarh, represented by Legislative Assembly Speaker Dharam Lal Kaushik.
Bilha, which is known for its high rice production, has a majority population of Scheduled Castes, who accuse the ruling party of denying them benefits under various Centre-run welfare schemes.
People in the constituency, which has over 200 villages, complain of deteriorating law and order situation, lack of water and sanitation, proper education and health care facilities.
"BJP MLA has recently started working for people. He is making roads in fifth year of his rule. There is no big government hospital in the area. There is poor road lighting," Deendayal Sahu, a farm labourer who works in Chakarbhata village in the constituency, said.
Kusum, who is in her mid-40s and works as a labourer, also claimed that there is limited development in the area.
"Schools here are in bad shape. I have to wait for long in a queue to get ration from government controlled ration shop. Shopkeepers do not treat us well and keep us waiting for getting our ration saying they are out of stock.
"At times, we need to visit the shop 2-3 days in a row to get our share of ration," she said.
A visit to Bilha constituency gives a divided picture of development.
Construction of roads connecting Bilha `basti` (township) from Bilha Mode (turning) to National Highway 130 connecting Raipur, is in full swing.
Roads in main Bilha `basti` and some of its adjacent areas are comparatively better, but most of the villages in the area are yet to see all-season roads to connect them with each other.
Electricity poles are being erected and wires being laid along some of the roads in Bilha in the state known for its abundant power production.
"We do not get water for our crops. There is a lack of canals and electricity to ensure sufficient water supply to our crops," Krishna Modak, a villager of Deokirari village, said.
It is time to harvest rice crop in the area, but some
farmers are complaining of lack of closed warehouses to store the grains.
They are also seeking proper storage of rice procured by Chhattisgarh state co-operative marketing federation limited.
Most of such procured food grains by the state government agency are lying in open at Hirri near here.
"Our food grains procured by the government is kept in the open. It often gets spoilt. Government must help us in keeping rice in safe place and construct more warehouses instead of allowing big malls and buildings in cities," Keshav, a shopkeeper, said.
Congress nominee Siyaram Kaushik, who had lost to BJP`s Dharam Lal Kaushik, is contesting again from Bilha.
He is now confident of winning the election. "BJP has not done anything for the area. Law and order is in bad condition.
"From roads to electricity, the condition is turning bad to worse. People will vote for change this time," Siyaram said.
Locals see a tough competition between Siyaram and BJP`s Kaushik here. Both candidates are approachable and known for giving a patient hearing to locals.
"It is going to be a tough competition for BJP candidate this time. There is a strong anti-incumbency wave against BJP. Congress may win this seat," Ram Lalwani, a shop owner from powerful Sindhi community here, said.
However, BJP`s winning MLA Dharam Lal Kaushik, who has defeated Congress` candidate by 6,070 votes in last assembly elections, is confident of getting people`s mandate again.
"We are working for betterment of gaon, garib and kisan (village, poor and farmers). BJP will continue to take pro-people measures if selected by people. I am confident of winning the constituency," Dharam Lal said.
BJP will form its government under the chief ministership of Dr Raman Singh for the third time, he said. 72 constituencies of Chhattisgarh, including Bilha, will go to polls on November 19.
BJP`s Prime Ministerial nominee and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address a public meeting here on November 15.