The BJP tasted its first electoral loss after coming to power at the Centre in Chhattisgarh, putting in a poor performance in the municipal elections whose results were declared on Sunday.
The opposition Congress made strong gains, winning four of the state’s 10 municipal corporations. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too won four. Independents won two.
In 2009, the BJP had won six of the corporations and the Congress had managed three.
For chief minister Raman Singh, in power uninterrupted since 2003, the results were not on expected lines. “We need to review why the results did not come as per our expectations,” Singh, who was the party’s face during campaigning, said.
BJP president Amit Shah too had added his heft to the civic polls, telling party workers during his visit to the state on December 12 last year that they had to deliver a good, positive result.
The Congress tasted success in the state after a poor showing in the Lok Sabha elections and when it won only one of the 11 seats and a defeat in the assembly polls last year.
Despite the gains, the Congress could not win in the Bilaspur region, where a sterilisation tragedy that claimed lives of 13 women in November last year put the BJP on a sticky wicket. Bilaspur, the hometown of health minister Amar Agrawal, witnessed strong protests against him following the botched sterilisation surgeries.
The talk in Congress circles is internal strife scuttled its prospects. The BJP’s Kishore Rai won the mayor’s post in Bilaspur municipal corporation defeating Congress candidate Ramsharan Yadav.
Former chief minister Ajit Jogi who stayed away from the Congress campaign, pinned the loss on wrong selection of candidates. “This was the reason I kept away from the campaign. Had the party accommodated my opinion while finalising the candidates, the Congress would have won in Bilaspur too.”
State Congress president Bhupesh Baghel said, “The overall results came in favour of the Congress party. It is also an indication for our senior leader Jogiji to assess for himself. Had he been with us, the party would have secured victory in Bilaspur too.”