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Congress poses major challenge to Chhattisgarh BJP
Saturday October 26, 2013 2:54 PM, Sujeet Kumar, IANS

After being out of power for a decade, the ruling Congress could stage a comeback in next month's elections to the 90-member Chhattisgarh assembly, say political analysts.

Despite being mired in factions and intra-party rivalry, the Congress has the chance to belie independent projections which say that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could score a hat-trick.

Political analysts insist there is no visible wave in Chhattisgarh in favour of or against any political outfit.

The BJP's top leaders in Chhattisgarh claim that the party is set to register a third consecutive victory on the basis of its track record on economic development.

Raman Singh, the 61-year-old Ayurvedic-doctor-turned politician who has headed the BJP government since December 2003, told IANS: "I am poised to score a hat-trick. Development will be the main election issue for the BJP in this election."

He rejected that there was popular anger against his government.

"I took out a 6,000-km yatra of all 27 districts which concluded last month. I didn't find any anti-incumbency existing against my government. But I believe more efforts are needed to take development to each and every village," Raman Singh said.

"If people give me a third term, I would surely accelerate the pace of development in the state."

Analysts point out that plenty is amiss.

Some say the development in the sprawling iron ore-rich Bastar and coal-rich Surguja belt was yet to pick up and that some senior BJP leaders including ministers don't command respect due to the arrogant behaviour they have displayed in public.

Ajit Jogi, the best known Congress leader and the state's first chief minister, said: "The BJP regime is on the way out in Chhattisgarh. It's a government of scamsters."

Jogi, who has represented the Marwahi constituency for two terms, has chosen not to contest the election this time. The Congress has allowed his son Amit Jogi to launch his political career from Marwahi.

In Chhattisgarh, a one or two percent voter swing will prove to be a decider.

In the last assembly battle of 2008, the difference between the BJP and the Congress was just two percent votes. But the BJP walked away with 12 extra seats than the Congress tally of 38 seats.

The Congress is still facing serious rivalry with Ajit Jogi in no mood to shake hands with the Congress high command-backed Charandas Mahant.

Senior leaders of the BJP and the Congress admit that the poll outcome in Bastar's 12 seats will largely decide the victor and vanquished this time too, observed Vinod Singh, a political analyst.

The BJP won 11 seats in Bastar in 2008 and the party needs to repeat its performance in 2013.

But the party's recent internal surveys indicate defeat in four-five seats. This means the Congress is very much in the race for power in the state that is home to India's roughly 20 percent of iron ore and coal block deposits.

(Sujeet Kumar can be contacted at

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