IN CHHATTISGARH, THE CONGRESS DECISIVELY defeated the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) by winning 68 of the 90 Assembly seats, and brought to an end nearly 15 years of the latter’s rule in the State. The party proved the exit polls wrong and gave its best performance in an Assembly election since it lost the Lok Sabha election in 2014. The overall vote share of the Congress in the State improved compared with the 2013 Assembly elections, when it won 39 seats against the BJP’S 49.
This time round, the BJP was reduced to a mere 15 seats and at least six of its Ministers lost. Three-time Chief Minister Raman Singh won from Rajnandgaon constituency, albeit with a reduced victory margin, and, in a humble acceptance of defeat, said: “I welcome the verdict of the people and also my good wishes to the Congress. I hope they will fulfil the promises they have made.”
The verdict proved that the Congress had successfully reached out to all classes and communities in the State, a senior functionary of the party in Chhattisgarh told Frontline. He said: “If you look at the results, every region in the State voted for the Congress. Members of all classes and castes voted for us across the rural and urban divide.” He said that under the BJP, every section of society was affected in one way or the other. “Because of unemployment and farm distress, which was exceedingly high, every sector voted against the BJP and for the Congress,” he said. The Congress manifesto, called Jan Goshnapatra, or people’s manifesto, was reportedly prepared after elaborate consultations with members of every section of society.
THE DALIT EQUATION
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CONGRESS general secretary in charge of Chhattisgarh, P.L. Punia (front row, third from left), with State party chief Bhupesh Baghel to his right at a press conference after the party’s victory, in Raipur, on December 11. Baghel is a leading contender for the Chief Minister’s post.