The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a huge loss in the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections as Congress won 68 seats of 90, while BJP managed only 15.
The first phase, where 18 constituencies went to vote, saw a voter turnout of 76.35 per cent. The second phase, where the remaining 72 constituencies went to vote, saw a voter turnout of 76.34 per cent. Chhattisgarh saw, on average, an overall turnout of 76.35 per cent.
Although analysts had predicted a tight contest, it eventually turned out to be one-sided. The BJP ended up losing a significant chunk (8%+) of its votes in the state.
It seems that the ‘Third Front”, led by Ajit Jogi’s Chhattisgarh Janata Congress (JCC) along with ally Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), was more damaging to BJP’s prospects than INC.
The Congress fielded former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s niece Karuna Shukla against BJP’s Raman Singh, Chattisgarh’s now former chief minister, in his constituency of Rajnandgaon. However, Shukla lost to Singh.
While Raman Singh is the chief ministerial candidate of the BJP, Ajit Jogi is the chief ministerial candidate for the BSP-JCC alliance. The Congress has not yet named its chief ministerial candidate for Chhattisgarh.
Congress wins by a huge margin
With the Congress poised to wrest power from the BJP in Chhattisgarh after 15 years, the party’s state unit chief Bhupesh Baghel has credited strong organisation within the party for the impressive performance, saying that he was “not expecting” such a big margin of victory.
“We were not expecting such a big blessing from the people. We were expecting around 60 seats,” Baghel was quoted by news agency PTI.
Baghel is the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee chief, and is seen as one of the contenders for the chief minister’s post along with T.S. Singhdeo. Baghel however said it was for the “high command” to decide who would be chief minister.
“The high command will take a decision on this. The responsibility that was given to me, I have fulfilled that,” he said.
“We strengthened the Congress organisation at the basic level under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership and through that we fought the battle for the common man,” Baghel said further.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh resigns
Taking the blame for the BJP’s dismal performance in Chhattisgarh, Chief Minister Raman Singh tendered his resignation to the state governor.
“I have tendered my resignation to the governor,” ANI quoted the outgoing chief minister.
“We respect the mandate that the public has given. I congratulate Congress on this success. I consider it my luck to serve the public of Chhattisgarh for the last 15 years… I take the responsibility for this defeat because the poll was contested under my leadership. We will act as a strong Opposition and work for the development of the state,” Singh said.
— ANI (@ANI) December 11, 2018
“We are going to analyse with everyone about the loss… The elections are fought in state on the basis of issues of the state, general elections will be fought in 2019,” Singh said when asked about Congress’ claims that this is a result of double anti-incumbency at the Center as well as the state.
We accept the people’s mandate with humility.
I thank the people of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan for giving us the opportunity to serve these states. The BJP Governments in these states worked tirelessly for the welfare of the people.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 11, 2018
What led to the BJP’s poor performance?
Rural distress, farm discontent, and “arrogance of power” are being cited as potential reasons for the BJP’s dismal performance in Chhattisgarh.
Farmers, farm activists, and BJP functionaries have said that the party “heavily” underestimated rural distress. The BJP paid no heed to the discontent among the urban voters, especially the small traders, over demonetisation and THE implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), Abhiram Ghadyalpatil reported.
Congress banked on SC/ST support
In Chhattisgarh, the Congress has traditionally relied on the support of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST), often at the cost of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) and others.
The ruling BJP seems to have lost its hold on the Assembly seats reserved for Scheduled Castes in Chhattisgarh.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.
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