With the slogan of "Saral, Sahaj, dil ka nek, Rajnandgaon ka beta Abhiskek" (simple, spontaneous and noble hearted, son of Rajnandgaon-Abhishek), the BJP is attempting to make way to the street of power for another political scion in Chhattisgarh.
A low profile Lok Sabha constituency - Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh is turning hot on political radar as Chief Minister Raman Singh's 33-year-old son Abhishek has been named as the BJP contestant from there, after the party denied ticket to its sitting MP Madhusudan Yadav.
Yadav had defeated Congress candidate Devwrat Singh, who belongs to the erstwhile royal family, with a margin of 1,19,074 votes in 2009 Lok Sabha election.
Initially, resentment among Yadavs was reported from various pockets of the region but later Madhusudan himself pacified them. Although the party is mainly banking on the simple and youth image of 'junior Raman' to woo the voters, people from the region believe 'Modi for PM' and 'Raman factor' waves will also make it an easy ride for Abhishek. When asked about his campaign slogan reflecting his image, Abhishek said, "I think simplicity and innocence has been an identity and tradition of the people of Chhattisgarh. People here are noble hearted and with good thinking they wish to do good things." Ruling out the advantage of being CM's son, he said his work and dedication will bring success to him.
Abhishek, who holds an MBA degree, has been active in Rajnandgaon and Kawardha strongholds of BJP for past 6 to 7 years. He also managed BJP's campaign in the two districts during last year's Assembly polls, in which the party retained power for third consecutive time in the state. According to Abhishek, his effort is to cover every corner of the constituency during his campaign.
The Naxal affected Manpur-Mohla Assembly constituency also falls in Rajnandgaon region. The main Opposition Congress has pitted Kamleshwar Verma (54), a zila panchayat member, from this seat going to polls on April 17 in Chhattisgarh's second phase Lok Sabha election.
Notably,13 candidates are in fray from Rajnandgaon seat, but the key battle is between the Congress and BJP.
Popular folk artist Seema Kaushik (43), Samajwadi Party's nominee from the seat, may create some ripples.
A Khairagarh-based farmer, Kamleshwar is playing pro-farmers' card to garner other backward caste (OBC) votes during his campaign. He says, "The battle is between 'kisan and mahal' (farmer and palace - referring to CM's son) in Rajnadgaon seat and I am confident of my victory." Kamleshwar, who belongs to Lodhi community, is also eyeing his community voters largely staying in Khairagarh, Dongargaon and Rajnandgaon Assembly segments of the region.
However, SP candidate Seema may turn show spoiler for Kamleshwar as she is also from the Lodhi community and may divide his votes. In the last year's Assembly elections, Congress and BJP shared four seats each out of the eight falling under Rajnandgaon parliamentary constituency. The BJP had won Rajnandgaon, Dongargarh, Pandariya and Kawardha Assembly seats while Congress emerged winner in Khairagarh, Dongargaon, Khujji and Mohla-Manpur seats.
"By seeing the Vidhan Sabha election results, it seems that it will be a neck-and-neck contest between BJP and Congress. At the same time it cannot be ignored that Abhishek will have the advantage of Modi and Raman factors," Sanjeev Shukla, a hotelier based in Rajanandgaon district headquarters, told PTI.
People vote in Assembly and Lok Sabha elections with a different mindset and perception, and Kamleshwar is nowhere near Abhishek in terms of popularity, said Chandrabhan Singh, Dongargarh-based farmer.