After a day-long drama over the electoral fortunes of the BJP and the Congress in Chhattisgarh, it’s finally Raman Raj again in the state. The saffron party retained the state with a simple majority with chief minister Raman Singh scoring a hat-trick.
For the Congress, it was defeat for the third consecutive time. Two reasons could be attributed to its defeat: a leadership crisis that was precipitated by the audacious Maoist attack in Bastar in May that eliminated a chunk of its top leadership and internal strife.
On the other hand, the BJP was better prepared and more organised. “The anti-incumbency was more candidate-oriented and affected both the parties. The Congress got its house in order only when the polls were announced,” said Sushil Sharma, political expert.
The ruling BJP knew the party had secured its best in tribal dominated Bastar in the south and Sarguja in north and so focussed more on the plains. The party consolidated its position in central Chhattisgarh and Mahanadi plains that compensated loss the BJP faced in the tribal belts. Both the Congress and BJP candidates faced varying degrees of challenge from the rebels but the ruling party managed their rebels better than the Congress. The BJP’s decision to deny tickets to 14 sitting MLAs and field 22 new faces also worked in favour. It also got some advantage of “sympathy” factor due to the death of Dilip Singh Judeo and won all three seats in his native place, Jashpur. “This is a historical victory and all credit to the people for a politically stable mandate in the state for the next five years,” Singh said.
The Congress couldn’t realise that an anti-incumbency wave was brewing in some pockets against its candidates. “I am surprised at the loss of our 27 MLAs. The outcome would be reviewed,” said Charan Das Mahant, PCC chief.