Cong ends 15-yr exile in C'garh with landslide win

Cong ends 15-yr exile in C'garh with landslide win

Congress party workers celebrate the party's good show in the Assembly elections of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, at AICC headquarters in New Delhi. PTI

Marking the end of its 15-year exile from power in Chhattisgarh, the Congress on Tuesday romped home with over two-thirds majority in the 90-member Assembly of the tribal-dominated state.

Recording a landslide victory in the state Assembly polls, the party was close to winning a total of 68 seats on Tuesday.

The ruling BJP, which had secured 49 seats in the last Assembly polls, could end up winning just 16 seats. In the last Assembly polls, the Congress had won 39 seats.

While it is primarily the farmers' distress, unemployment, price rise and various allegations of corruption that seem to have triggered the rout of the 15-year reign of the BJP under Chief Minister Raman Singh, demonetisation and the subsequent implementation of the GST by the Centre were other catalysts lending strength to the chorus for "parivartan" (change in regime) in the state.

Accusations of extrajudicial killings by security forces and other alleged police excess on tribals in name of curbing left-wing extremism had turned the wave against the BJP in the Maoist-hit regions in Chhattisgarh.

Congress will increase its tally in Bastar region.

The Congress' manifesto, promising loan-waiver to farmers within ten days of forming government, bonus to farmers along with two-year arrears, return of 4,200 acres of land to the tribals and framers which was acquired by the Raman Singh government for setting up Tata Steel Plant five years ago, touched the masses.

The wave of anti-incumbency was so strong that even the chief minister had a tough contest in his hometurf of Rajnandgaon, where Congress had fielded Karuna Shukla, the niece of the former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Eight of the 12 ministers in the Raman Singh government — Amar Agrawal, Ramsevak Paikra, Mahesh Gagda, Rajesh Munat, Prem Prakash Pandey, Kedar Kashyap, Dayaldas Baghel and Bhaiyalal Rajwade — were trailing.

Tamradhwaj Sahu, Congress' lone Lok Sabha member from Chhattisgarh; Bhupesh Baghel, Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee chief; and T S Singhdeo, Leader of Opposition in the State assembly led in their seats with huge margin.

The trends indicated that the Congress witnessed a significant increase in its vote share in the state despite former Congress leader Ajit Jogi joining the battle with his own party, Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC), which fielded candidates in alliance with the BSP and the CPI.

The vote share of the Congress climbed to 43.2% from 40.29 % in the 2013 assembly polls, while the BJP's vote share came down to 32.8% this time from 41.04%.

The JCC-BSP-CPI combine had a vote share of 11.4% in the polls as per trends in the last leg of counting.