Bilaspur: It is perhaps the same story of last minute development work ordered by those in power in majority of the constituencies of any poll-bound state and Bilaspur is no exception to it.
A lot of work like repair of dilapidated roads and removal of encroachment from pavements can be seen going on in Bilaspur, one of the major cities of Chhattisgarh, which will go to polls on November 19.
BJP nominee and state health minister Amar Agarwal, who has been representing Bilaspur in the 90-seat Chhattisgarh legislative assembly for the last ten years, faces tough challenge from Congress candidate and city mayor Vani Rao over lack of development and other issues.
"See the condition of the roads. They are in poor shape. There is a lot of dust in the city. BJP has done nothing in the last ten years of its rule. People are fed up and want change," Rao said while interacting with voters at Railway Colony here.
An agile Rao, who is in her early fifties, has undertaken a mass contact programme and is trying to visit each and every area of Bilaspur constituency and its voters.
"BJP`s winning MLA from here is health minister. Still the roads are in bad health. Nothing has been done for youths by the ruling party. I am confident people will surely choose their betterment by voting Congress to power in this election," she said.
Rao`s working as Bilaspur Mayor and her pro-people attitude has gained acceptance from a section of the public while Agarwal`s approach towards development and welfare of the people has been criticised by some.
Bilaspur has two major government-aided hospitals -- District Hospital and Chhattisgarh Institute of Medical Sciences (CIMS), which is compared by the ruling party with Delhi`s All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS) here.
Both the hospitals need renovation and capacity building by the administration as long queue of patients can usually be seen awaiting their turn to see a doctor and frantic running around by family members of severely ill patients to find an empty bed is a common sight.
"I am here to consult a doctor for my ailing son. He needs to be admitted, but doctors are denying availability of any bed for him," Kasture Sukma, who had come to the government hospital here, said.
Ashok Ranjan Verma, a social worker, said, "I could not
get a bed in a government hospital for my old mother. Ultimately, I had to take her to a private hospital."
He said the patients` intake needs to be increased in government hospitals as most of the poor people come from neighbouring areas for treatment of their near and dear ones.
BJP nominee Agarwal claims to have taken various steps for the welfare of the city and its people.
He has promised to construct two big flyovers and introduce a solid waste management scheme for collection of garbage from home and its safe disposal in his campaign pamphlets if he wins in the upcoming elections.
The BJP nominee also promised to introduce `Arpa Development Scheme` at the cost of Rs 2,300 crore to ensure regular water supply from Arpa river which originates from neighbouring Kota area of the district.
Congress candidate Rao, however, rubbished the claim saying, "They are making false claim to develop surrounding areas of Arpa river on the lines of London`s Thames. For the last ten years, he (Agrawal) could not do anything. It is a poll agenda to fool the people."
As the date of polling nears, Congress and BJP candidates are holding a series of public meetings to woo voters.
BJP`s Agrawal had defeated Congress` Anil Tah by a margin of 9,376 votes in the 2008 Assembly elections. Agrawal had secured a highest of 60,784 votes during the elections.
Residents of the constituency are expecting the winning candidates to bring in development in the state.
"No development work has been done in the state. Youths like me are unemployed. Law and order is in bad condition. We want change this time," said Abhishek, an autorickshaw driver who hails from Rajnandgaon.
Abhishek, who is Class XII passout and aspires to study further with the help of government assistance as he is from a poor family, says he wants to see development in the city.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, who is seeking a consecutive third term for BJP, is contesting the election from Rajnandgaon constituency.
Bilaspur will go to polls on November 19.
Bilaspur railway zone is said to be the largest contributor to revenue from freight mainly due to large scale production of cement, coal and rice.
As many as 18 constituencies, mostly in Naxal-infested Bastar region, went to polls today.
The remaining 72 constituencies will go to polls on November 19.