Malkit Singh Gaidu, the Congress leader of Jagdalpur, is not a happy man. He was almost certain to get a Congress ticket from the only general category seat of south Chhattisgarh, Jagdalpur, but the “Rahul-formula” hit him. The formula is based in part on the Congress performance in Lok Sabha polls, as well as the candidate’s age.
Mr. Gaidu says that as a party worker, he will serve the candidate “selected by the leadership”.
“Lekin dukh toh hai,” [But it hurts me], he said, claiming that he is actively working for the party. These demoralised but reasonably powerful local leaders are the Congress’s biggest problem and some of them, unlike Mr. Gaidu, have either left the party or are working openly for the opposition. A few of them are also contesting the election, including Neena Rewatiya of Bijapur.
It is believed the rebels are sponsored by the BJP, and candidates like Ms. Rewatiya or Shankar Sodi in Kondagaon could damage the party substantially.
The BJP has similar problems, so much so that Chief Minister Raman Singh had to spend several days before the election to meet the minor and major players of the party.
Mr. Singh accepted that the number of ticket hopefuls has increased substantially. “And that is a problem…but we will manage it finally,” he told The Hindu, while trying to appease the ticket-seekers.
But the party seems to have managed its rebels better than the Congress. Jamuna Majhi in Konta, Bhojraj Nag in Antagarh, Lachchuram Kasyap in Chitrakoot, Chintamani Baghel in Keshkal, Banamali Nag in Jagdalpur are some powerful local leaders of the BJP who have either filed their nomination or were planning to file as rebels. But they all withdrew at the last moment and that gave an edge to the BJP.
However, the party is still facing challenges in Kanker, Kondagaon and in a couple of constituencies in Rajnandgaon in central Chhattisgarh.
There is rebellion in the Communist Party of India (CPI) too. Veteran Communist leader of Dantewada, Sukal Prasad Nag, is contesting to protest against the nomination of a “greenhorn”, Bhomraram Kawasi. “Parties are sold out…money is the deciding factor in elections,” Mr. Nag wrote in his appeal to voters.
Meanwhile, Ajit Jogi’s comeback is a cause of concern for the BJP.
Mr. Jogi’s supporters say that half of the Congress candidates are Jogi loyalists. Raman Singh accepted that “Jogi is a factor” in the election.
“If Congress unites and contests with honesty and integrity, we will need to work harder” Mr. Singh told The Hindu.