CM had pressed son, wife into service to counter critics
Rajnandgaon, 11 November
His personal integrity and contribution to the progress of his constituency notwithstanding, the stakes for Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh in these Assembly polls were high. Caught between the spiraling aspirations of his constituency, Rajnandgaon, and his one-time protégés turning their backs on him, his fate was sealed today, when the residents of this town registered their preference on the electronic voting machine.
“People in Rajnandgaon believe that Dr Raman Singh is a gentleman and has brought a lot of development to the area, especially in the health and education sectors,” says Mr Kamal Agrawal, a Rajnandgaon-based forest produce trader. Skeptics, however, don’t buy the growth story, insisting that it was corruption and lawlessness that grew faster than anything else during his tenure. The chief minister, they allege could have turned Rajnandgaon into a more developed and peaceful town had he come out of the clutches of his select coterie, comprising babus mainly.
When the soft spoken Raman was riding high on his popularity and goodwill among the masses, few of his protégés benefitted immensely and amassed disproportionate wealth, while nursing higher ambitions all the while. Contesting from Rajnandgaon, 70 km from capital Raipur, Dr Singh had perhaps not sensed the level of these ambitions among his trusted lieutenants.
During campaigning, most of these aides developed cold feet, as another term for Raman as MLA could mean political oblivion for them and turned their backs on him. Informed sources however, also attributed this betrayal to the BJP&’s changed political dynamics in New Delhi, as some top leaders are not so happy with Raman.
The chief minister, who relies only on select aides in the secretariat, sensed the gravity of the situation and pressed into action his wife, Mrs Veena Singh, and son, Mr Abhishek Singh, to canvass voters on his behalf.
The door-to-door campaign the family undertook spurred the cadre, but it remains to be seen if it was enough to defeat his critics and back-stabbers.