Kanker (Chhattisgarh): Congress chief Rahul Gandhi kickstarted his two-day election campaign in the state on Friday with twin attacks on the Narendra Modi government over demonetisation and the long list of loan defaulters who fled India.

Addressing an election rally in Pakhanjore town of Kanker district, Gandhi said the common man was forced to stand in queues after demonetisation, while defaulters were allowed to flee abroad. “All of you were standing in long queues during demonetisation, but not one black money holder was seen. Also, Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi and Mehul Choksi ran away from the country with your money,” Gandhi said.

His statement comes a day after the second anniversary of demonetisation saw another war of words between the opposition and government.

Gandhi is scheduled to address four more rallies in Saturday, coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s schedule in the state for Friday.
Modi will address a rally in Bastar district’s headquarters, Jagdalpur, while Gandhi will hold a road show in Chief Minister Raman Singh’s constituency, Rajnandgaon. Gandhi will put up at Rajnandgaon for the night and on Saturday, will address rallies in Charama (Kanker district) and Kondagaon.

Raman Singh is also scheduled to hold a road show in Rajnandgaon on Friday evening. He is pitted against the Congress’s Karuna Shukla, niece of late prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The campaigning for the first phase will end Saturday.

The first phase on November 12 will see 18 seats of eight Naxal-affected districts go to polls. Of these, 12 are Scheduled Tribe seats while one is a Scheduled Caste-reserved seat.

The ruling BJP had lost 12 of the 18 seats in the 2013 Assembly polls.

The remaining 72 constituencies will witness polling on November 20 and counting of votes will be held on December 11.

A total of1,291 candidates are in the fray for the two phased state polls.

In the 2013 Assembly polls, the BJP had won 49 seats, Congress 39, BSP 1 and Independent 1 in the 90-member House.

| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai

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