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Behind the BJP's star show in Chhattisgarh: Almost 14% surge in votes

Source: PTI
December 04, 2023 12:37 IST
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A string of populist promises, including extension of the free ration scheme announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Mahadev betting app issue and the Hindutva card are among key factors that have catapulted the Bharatiya Janata Party to power in Chhattisgarh after five years.

IMAGE: BJP leader Raman Singh at a pre-election rally in Chhattisgarh. Photograph: ANI Photo

The BJP crossed the 50 seats mark for the first time since the formation of the state in 2000.

The Congress failed to repeat its 2018 performance, when it won 68 out of 90 constituencies, and had to contend with just 35 seats this time.

The BJP proved the exit polls, which gave a slight edge to the Congress, wrong by improving its tally from 15 seats to 54 in the 90-member assembly after results were declared on Sunday.

The scale of the Congress's defeat can be gauged from the fact that nine out of 13 ministers in the Bhupesh Baghel cabinet bit the dust.


Baghel (Patan constituency) and ministers Kawasi Lakhma (Konta), Umesh Patel (Kharsia) and Anila Bhendia (Dondi Lohara) managed to withstand the BJP wave.

Chhattisgarh assembly speaker Charan Das Mahant won his Sakti seat but state Congress chief Deepak Baij suffered defeat from Chitrakot.

From the BJP side, former chief minister Raman Singh won from Rajnandgaon. State BJP chief and party MP Arun Sao bagged the Lormi seat. Another MP Gomti Sai prevailed in Pathalgaon.

Union minister Renuka Singh won from Bharatpur-Sonhat and former Union minister Vishnu Deo Sai from Kunkuri seat.

Former BJP ministers, including Brijmohan Agrawal (Raipur City South), Ajay Chandrakar (Kurud), Punnulal Mohile (Mungeli), Amar Agrawal (Bilaspur), Dayaldas Baghel (Nawagarh) and Rajesh Munat (Raipur City West) also won.

Ex-IAS officers OP Choudhary and Neelkanth Tekam also tasted success.

The Congress had highlighted welfare schemes of the outgoing Baghel government, claiming Rs 1.75 lakh crore was spent on them. The party also played the Chhattisgarhi identity -- Chhattisgarhiyawad -- card and projected Bhupesh Baghel as the son of the soil.

For the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the poll mascot. He hit the hustings and addressed nine public rallies in the state since July.

The BJP and the Congress tried to outdo each other by promising almost similar sops and welfare schemes to voters.

Led by PM Modi, the BJP brass, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah and party president JP Nadda targeted the Baghel government over the Mahadev betting app and alleged coal and liquor scams being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The saffron party also targeted the Congress over communal violence in Bemetara and Kawardha districts and alleged religious conversion.

It also fielded Ishwar Sahu, whose son was killed in the communal violence in Biranpur, from Saja seat.

Sahu defeated influential Congress leader and minister Ravindra Choubey by a margin of 5,196 votes.

In the Kawardha seat, BJP's Vijay Sharma trounced Congress minister Mohammad Akbar by a margin of 39,592 votes. Akbar won the Kawardha seat in the 2018 assembly elections by 59,284 votes.

During campaigning in Saja, Amit Shah had said Ishwar Sahu is not only a candidate but a symbol of the fight for justice, and if the BJP comes back to power, every murderer of his son Bhuneshwar Sahu will be sent to jail.

Apart from corruption, the BJP also targeted the Congress over non-implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna, and failure to fulfil the Congress's 2018 promises including liquor ban and regularisation of contractual employees.

The overall voting pattern also showed that the BJP managed to cover up the huge gap of 10.1 per cent in vote share compared to the last assembly elections.

The BJP's vote share rose from 32.97 per cent in 2018 to 46.27 per cent in 2023. On the other hand, the Congress's vote share came down marginally from 43.04 per cent to 42.23 per cent.

According to political experts, traditional votes of the BJP that were shifted to the Congress owing to anti-incumbency of 15 years in 2018 returned to the saffron party in this election.

The voting pattern in the tribal Surguja region also shook the ruling Congress where they lost all the 14 seats which the party swept in the 2018 polls, including Ambikapur where deputy chief minister T S Singh Deo faced defeat by a narrow margin of 94 votes.

Out of the 47 new faces fielded by the BJP, 29 emerged victorious.

The Bahujan Samaj Party, which contested this assembly election in alliance with the Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP), drew a blank while the GGP won Pali Tanakhar seat, first time since the formation of the state.

In 2018, the Mayawati-led party won two seats.

The Janata Congress Chhattisgarh-J, which bagged five seats in 2018, failed to open its account this time.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party, which tried its luck for the second time in Chhattisgarh and contested 53 seats, also drew a blank and secured 0.93 per cent vote share.

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