New Delhi: Rising fuel prices have affected the campaign costs in poll-bound states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. With campaigns reaching a feverish pitch, parties are struggling to keep expenses low and adjust fuel to their logistics cost, said a DNA report on Friday. The poll process in the five states of Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana is expected to be completed by the second week of December. Sources from the Election Commission (EC) said that it was looking at the possibility of conducting them together.
Parties are asking office-bearers to keep the campaign as virtual as possible by turning to social media, instead of actually stepping out in cavalcades. Both the BJP and Congress are very active on WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to reach out to voters. Booth-level workers have also been mobilised to cut logistic cost as also increase interaction with voters. The Congress, according to the report, has asked its district presidents to bear fuel costs locally. Madhya Pradesh Opposition leader Ajay Singh blamed the BJP for fuel price rise. “Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is spending government money on his ‘Jan Aashirvaad Yatra’ and people are forced to pay a hefty price for buying fuel,” he said. (Also read: In MP, Cong Tickets to go to Leaders Most Active on Social Media)
On its part, the BJP must be anxious that its vote bank of the urban middle-class has been hit hard by rising fuel cost and rupee depreciation. “As prices shoot up and products become costlier, the middle class will begin to get angry. Since the middle class dominates the urban landscape, it is visible in media. It definitely is a cause for worry,” a senior party leader said. However, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje said, “For our government, it’s always people first. We reduced the VAT by 4% on petrol and diesel immediately.”
In Madhya Pradesh, BJP chief spokesman Dr Hitesh Vajpayee said that the mood was upbeat despite the volatile financial condition. “The reduction in GST has resulted in 15 to 20% drop in prices of key poll material, like T-shirts and caps.” He said GST rate cut has offset expense due to high fuel price. Meanwhile, both the BJP and the Congress want to take advantage of sops offered by some petrol pump owners. “Some petrol pump owners offer free breakfast and tea to truck drivers for the purchase of 100 litres of diesel. Others are offering a mobile, bicycle, wrist watch for 5,000 litres, or a 100 gram silver coin for 15,000 litres,” said a BJP functionary.
In Chhattisgarh, where Chief Minister Raman Singh out on his Atal Yatra, the BJP is managing on party funds. A senior state party functionary said, “The party may use the ‘Vote do Note do’ (cast vote, donate money to BJP) policy that was implemented during the 2013 assembly poll.” A Congress leader said the party was using its own funds to organise meetings and rallies. “The party will use social media to cut poll expenses. A major expense is for transportation and campaign material,” he added.