Aarti Dhar

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party, while retaining power in Chhattisgarh, noticeably improved its performance in the tribal belts, most of which are hit by naxal menace. It may be pointed out that the State-sponsored “Salwa Judum” was a main election issue.

The BJP won 50 seats and the Congress 38. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) secured two seats. The worst loser was the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which did not win any of the three seats it got under the alliance with the Congress. In fact, it lost the lone Chandrapur seat to Yudhvir Singh Judev (BJP), son of Dilip Singh Judev.

BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad, party in-charge of Chhattisgarh, said they made impressive gains in the tribal and naxal-affected areas. “The party demonstrated its will and determination to fight naxalism, whereas the Congress was talking in terms of winding up Salwa Judum.”

Vote share up

Compared to 2003, the BJP increased its vote share to over 40 per cent (provisional official figures) from 39 per cent and the Congress from 36 to 38.8 per cent.

Interestingly, both Chhattisgarh PCC chief Dhanendra Sahu and BJP State chief and MP Vishnu Dev Sai lost their seats. Speaker Prem Prakash Pandey and Ministers Ajay Chandrakar, Satyanand Rathia and Chanesh Ram Bhagat also lost.

Many stalwarts of the Congress, including the chief ministerial post aspirant Mahendra Karma, lost. He lost to Bhima Mandavi (BJP) in Dantewada by a margin of 12,000 votes. By winning Dantewada, Bijapur and Narayanpur seats, the BJP has managed to make inroads into the heavily naxalite-affected areas, which were so far considered Congress strongholds.

Jogis win

Among other Congress leaders who lost are Satyanarayan Sharma, Bhupesh Baghel, Preeti Netam, Ganga Potai and T.S. Singh Deo. Among those who won are Ravindra Choubey and Nand Kumar Patel. Incidentally, all of them were perceived as a “threat” to the former Chief Minister, Ajit Jogi’s claim to chief ministership. Mr. Jogi and his wife Renu Jogi won comfortably from Marwahi and Kota — but with reduced margins.

Surprise came from the Rajim seat, where Amitesh Shukla, son of the former Congress leader, S.C. Shukla, won. However, Arun Vora, son of Moti Lal Vora, lost this time again.

Chief Minister Raman Singh won the Rajnandgaon seat with a margin of over 38,000 votes over his Congress opponent and sitting MLA Uday Mudaliyar. Dr. Singh seemed to have influenced all seats adjoining Rajnandgaon also, as Congress strongholds such as Kawardha, Dongargaon, Dongargarh and Khairagarh also went the BJP way.

The BSP put up a disappointing show by winning just Akaltara and Pamgarh.

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