hhattisgarh Elections 2018, a total of 1,079 candidates were in the fray, and both Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) contested all the 72 seats — however, this time, the results would be very unpredictable. BJP may gain votes, but they won’t be able to form an independent government. No doubt, Raman Singh has reduced the Naxal cases and has done a lot of development in the state. He developed Raipur and Naya Raipur. The only opposition to him is Ajit Jogi. Raman Singh has said that he is contesting the 2018 elections on the development plan. He cites the increase in power generation from 4,732 MW in 2003 to 22,764 MW this year and the increase in PMGSY network from 1,072 km in 2003 to 22,750 km this year as achievements. While the stated pitch remains development, Raman Singh, the veteran of political battles, realises that he will have to deliver individually and to specific communities to win in 2018. He targeted the 29 tribal seats in the state where the BJP didn’t do too well last time. In the 12 seats in the Bastar region, the BJP won only four. Bonus distribution of tendu leaf plucking is being given out to woo the tribal electorate besides extension of the work of the RSS affiliates in the tribal areas. He has doled out smartphones earlier this year and rice at Rs 1 per kg previously. Bonus on paddy procurement has been ordered and is being seen as the game changer in the next polls. He is confident that the BJP’s vote share and seats will increase this time.
On the other hand, Congress has no mass leader. Seems no party will come in the majority. In my prediction of Chhattisgarh elections, Jogi would be a kingmaker like Shibu Soren in Jharkhand. As Ajit Jogi, who was in Congress and was the head of Congress in Chhattisgarh, has left the Congress along with the powerful leaders who had a stronghold in their zones and formed an independent party headed by Jogi which is the reflection of Congress and named as “Janta Congress Chhattisgarh”. Because of this, the vote Bank of Congress is shaken as the majority will choose Ajit Jogi. If Jogi supports Congress, then BJP will be out of power. In the end, if Jogi Congress supports BJP with their terms and conditions, then the scenario may change as Ajit Jogi has good relations with Raman Singh. Raman Singh will again become the CM of the state for the fourth time. BJP losing Chhattisgarh is only a distant possibility. Given the Modi-Shah duo’s astute political dealings and Congress’s equally defunct organisational and ideological standing, a Congress win is nearly improbable.
Still, one can’t simply discount Congress’s chances. The last assembly election in 2013 saw only a marginal difference of 0.7 per cent, in the vote shares of BJP and Congress. Given the fact that anti-incumbency and some serious corruption allegations against CM Raman Singh would be playing strong as he seeks to win a fourth term. It’d all come down to who’s more adept at political shenanigans in the run-in to the assembly election in 2018 and I doubt, Congress can beat the BJP at its own game. Just like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Congress has fielded a formidable candidate Karuna Shukla against Chief Minister Raman Singh, 66, in Rajnandgaon. Karuna Shukla, 68, is the niece of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Like Manvendra Singh, she too was with the BJP but later quit the party to join the Congress. She was a BJP MLA when Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2001. She won the 14th Lok Sabha election in 2004 Janjgir constituency of Chhattisgarh on a BJP ticket.
However, she lost the Lok Sabha 2009 election from Korba to Charan Das Mahant of the Congress.
She resigned from the BJP in 2013 alleging that the party was “under the grip of power politics”. A couple of months before the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Karuna Shukla joined the Congress and contested from Bilaspur constituency in Chhattisgarh. However, BJP’s Lakhan Lal Sahu defeated her.
Karuna Shukla has been vocal against the BJP and has been active in Rajnandgaon, the Chief Minister’s constituency. The then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had called Raman Singh a “giant killer” for defeating veteran Congress leader Motilal Vora in the 1999 Lok Sabha election from Rajnandgaon constituency. Now, Karuna Shukla poses a challenge from Karuna Shukla, who is vying to become a “giant killer”.
Whether or not they win but the presence of strong Congress candidates Manvendra Singh against Vasundhara Raje, Arun Yadav against Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Karuna Shukla against Raman Singh has made the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh quite interesting.
The sitting BJP chief ministers can certainly not remain complacent as in the previous years as their opponents are capable of giving them a run for their money. Let’s see what mandate the votes of the states deliver. Whatsoever, is the result, it is very much sure that the BJP will not have a cake walk this time.
Present situation shows that BJP will have a tough competition in MP, Rajasthan, and Chattisgarh and even Karnataka. It looks BJP may not be in the position to form the government in MP, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh independently. Congress is improving their strength in all the 3 BJP ruled states. Anti-incumbency is quite strong here but BJP would win the election with a very thin majority. Remember, people would want a change as well since the same party is governing the state. Some people are of opinion on news channels that BJP wouldn’t return to power.
Opposition played the caste line but Chhattisgarh’s social values defeated the strategy. Another factor, alcohol that can play a crucial role in some election, is now in BJP government’s control. Since last year, the Chhattisgarh government started selling alcohol and it has closed the shops of all private sellers. The opposition now won’t be able to use alcohol to their advantage.
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