In what can be seen as a dress rehearsal for the Chhattisgarh assembly polls scheduled later this year, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress will test their popularity in the Feb 4 by-poll to the Keshkal assembly segment.
The by-poll to the Keshkal seat in the Maoist insurgency-infested Bastar district was necessitated as the BJP legislator, Mahesh Baghel, was killed in a car accident in August last year. Keshkal is a Scheduled Tribe reserved seat.
"In an election year, the Feb 4 by-poll result will be really an indicator where the ruling and the opposition chances stand. The Congress will aim to wrest the seat from the BJP to dent its morale," Congress state general secretary and spokesman Ramesh Varlyani said Saturday.
However, Chief Minister Raman Singh said "people have full confidence in the BJP government as it has done a lot for rural infrastructure since it came to power in December 2003. We will easily retain the seat."
The filing of nomination papers will begin Jan 10. The last day for filing papers is Jan 17 while scrutiny will take place the next day. Counting will be held on Feb 7.
Polls to the state's 90-member assembly are slated for October-November this year.