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In Chhattisgarh, Congress's Cautious Pessimism Proves to Be Too Little, Too Late

Meanwhile, the BJP had fought the election with no CM face, and after the win, the party is now in a mad rush to finalise a name.
A BJP rally in Chhattisgarh. Photo: X/@NitinNabin

Raipur: In a stunning move, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Chhattisgarh won 54 seats, going beyond every expectation and even the exit polls, released a day prior, to sweep the state in the assembly election.

The Congress faced a massive loss, with only a few ministers apart from chief minister Bhupesh Baghel managing to save their seats.

The BJP established an early lead, winning all 14 seats in the Sarguja region and eight out of 12 in the Bastar region. The Congress’s deputy chief minister and senior leader T.S. Singh Deo lost to BJP’s Rajesh Agarwal by 94 votes in the Ambikapur seat.

Among the seats the Congress managed to win, Sukma’s Konta constituency was hotly contested. Minister Kawasi Lakhma managed to save his seat by 1,930 votes against Communist Party of India leader Manish Kunjam.

The Congress government’s home minister Tamradhwaj Sahu and agriculture minister Ravindra Chaubey also lost, with Chaubey losing it to a political newbie, Ishwar Sahu.

Sahu, who had lost his son in the religious violence in Kawardha, fought his campaign on religious lines. 

While the Congress’ vote share stayed stagnant at 42%, the BJP increased its vote share to slightly above 46%, showing a significant rise in pro-BJP sentiments among the voters.

In the state capital Raipur, the BJP won all seven seats.

The BJP had fought the election with no CM face, and after the win, the party is now in a mad rush to finalise a name. Former chief minister and BJP leader Raman Singh told reporters that the party had not expected this majority.

“It is now clear that the Chhattisgarh residents were done with the corruption of the Congress government. We managed to show all aspects of the mismanagement that they were involved in,” he said.

Meanwhile, Baghel, who had claimed that the Congress would win more than 75 seats this time, managed to win his constituency, Patan, with a margin of over 10,000 votes.

According to political experts, the party lost out majorly on urban voters.

A political analyst said, “Urban voters also help building the image which the Congress failed to capture. They also seem to have lost out to the Mahtari Vandan Yojana, despite making a bigger promise, because they didn’t fulfil all promises of direct debit transfer made last time.”

The Congress party did expect damage and was cautiously pessimistic, even though the BJP did not deliver any strong message before the elections, experts said. The big shocks to the Congress party were from the Bastar and Sarguja regions.

“Their star leader from Sarguja was promised a CM position and then denied it. Evidently the people of Sarguja are unhappy with this. The Congress dug its own grave there,” a senior BJP leader said. 

The Congress also faced significant dissatisfaction from tribal and minority communities for what they see is its “soft Hindutva” ideology. 

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