Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections: All You Need To Know
The electoral battle for Chhattisgarh promises to be an exciting one with a new entrant in what was essentially a two-horse race between the Bharatiya Janata Party led by three-term Chief Minister Raman Singh and the Congress Party.
The Chhattisgarh assembly has 90 seats, with 46 needed to form the government. In the 2013 assembly elections, the BJP bagged 49 seats, and the Congress clinched 39. Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party won one seat.
Vote shares in the previous elections indicate that the contest has been a close one. In both the 2008 and 2013 assembly polls, the vote share difference between the BJP and Congress was less than 1 percent.
Opinion polls have predicted a close fight, with C-Voter predicting a win for the Congress, while others put the BJP in front. On average, pollsters are predicting a narrow victory for the BJP, a mere seven seats ahead of the Congress.
The Congress and BJP could face pressure from the alliance between BSP and Ajit Jogi's Janta Congress Chhattisgarh. Mayawati dealt a blow to Congress' hopes of forming a Mahagathbandhan, or grand alliance, when she joined hands with Jogi, a former Congressman.
The State’s first Chief Minister could play ‘Kingmaker’ in this election. Ajit Jogi’s Janta Congress Chhattisgarh has allied with the Bahujan Samaj Party and the CPI and could cut into votes of either the BJP or the Congress in this closely contested race. Jogi is contesting the election from the reserved constituency of Marwahi, from where his son Amit Jogi had won with a huge margin in the last election.
Chhattisgarh’s biggest face is three-time Chief Minister Raman Singh. Singh will face off with the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's niece Karuna Shukla—who joined the Congress—from the Rajnandgaon seat. Jogi, according to news reports, was to contest from the constituency, and the Congress is citing his reluctance as proof that he's functioning as the BJP’s “B-Team”. While Singh is known for his focus on development, he might have to deal with anti-incumbency.
Controlling the Maoist insurgency in the Bastar region has been a critical challenge and a poll plank. Addressing the concerns of the tribal population—a significant part of the electorate—is another concern. Of the 90 seats in the state, 39 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Unemployment, which according to CMIE data stands at 22 percent, is another major problem.
(Updates an earlier version to correct the vote share in a graphic)