Cong hopes to settle scores with BJP in Chhattisgarh

The electoral battle in the Maoist-affected Chhattisgarh is set to be an interesting game as the Congress hopes to improve its tally for the first time in 10 years.

In the last two Parliament elections, the BJP bagged 10 out of 11 seats, leaving a solitary one for the Congress – former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi in 2004 and PCC chief Charan Das Mahanta in 2009.

This time, the Congress fielded both of them from their winning seats – Jogi from Mahasamund and Mahant from Korba. Moreover, the grand old party has former BJP MP and prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s niece Karuna Shukla, too, in its fold.
Shukla would be contesting from Bilaspur – an area where Jogi wields considerable influence. His wife Renu Jogi contested from the same constituency in 2009, but was defeated by the BJP’s Dilip Singh Judeo, who is no more.

The PCC chief, too, was benefitted by Jogi as the state chief minister’s pocket borough Marwahi and Pali-Tanakhar went to Mahant’s Korba constituency after delimitation.

Infusion of a large chunk of Congess votes from the Jogi catapulted Mahant to the Parliament. After ensuring Assembly seats for his wife and son Amit Jogi, the senior Jogi will attempt to return to the Parliament. Though he is wheelchair-bound following an accident, his health has improved a lot since the accident, just days before the Parliament polls in 2004. From the hospital bed, he defeated BJP's V C Shukla by a margin of 1 lakh votes.

The task for Jogi, however, is not an easy one as Chief Minister Raman Singh of the BJP has dominated the electoral landscape for the last 10 years. Known as a silent worker in the saffron party, Singh won three Assembly polls and delivered a 10:1 result in favour of the BJP in two general elections.

This time, Singh is fielding his son Abhishek from Rajnandgaon, which houses eight Assembly segments, including the one represented by Singh in the Vidhan Sabha.
The BJP has retained six of its 11 sitting MPs, giving tickets to some candidates backed by Raman, leading to discontent within the party.

In the last two polls, the vote percentage of both the Congress and the BJP dropped marginally and there is a steady rise in the vote share of independents in the corresponding period.

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