While the BJP is seeking re-election, the Congress hopes to form a government in Chhattisgarh. Then there is former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress Chhattisgarh in the fray, making it a three-cornered fight for the first time since the State was formed 18 years ago.
Sobhana K. Nair reports from Raipur:
Here are the live updates:
ECI's figures at 1.33 am shows the Congress winning 57 seats and leading in 11, the BJP winning 11 seats and leading in further 4 seats, followed by the BSP winning in 2 and others in 5 seats.
‘Swayamvar’ under way for CM post
When the Congress was running a feisty campaign to return to power in Chhattisgarh after 15 long years, it was often asked about its face against the saffron party’s longest-serving Chief Minister Raman Singh — Armed with a big majority now, the grand old party has quite a few options.
T.S. Singhdeo — scion of an erstwhile royal family, leader of Opposition in the outgoing Assembly and a key contender for the top post — said during the poll campaign that the Chief Minister would be selected through a ‘Swayamvar’.
13 women elected as MLAs, including 9 from Congress
Thirteen women have been elected to the Chhattisgarh Assembly in 2018, a rise from the 10 and 11 women who became MLAs after the 2013 and 2008 polls respectively, a State election official said on Tuesday.
Counting of votes is currently under way for the 90-member House with results and trends as of 7:50 p.m. showing the Congress winning six seats and leading in 62 others, and the BJP winning two and leading in 14 others.
Of the 13 women who have been elected in the 2018 polls, the Congress leads with nine women MLAs while the BJP has one.
This figure was six for the BJP and four for the Congress in the 2013 polls, the official said.
Renu Jogi, wife of former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, who was with Congress in 2013, has also won her Assembly seat this time from the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J).
The remaining two women legislators are from local outfits, the official said. — PTI
Befitting reply to ‘corrupt’ BJP: Baghel
With the Congress poised to wrest power from the BJP in Chhattisgarh after 15 years, the party’s State unit chief Bhupesh Baghel on Tuesday said people have given a befitting reply to the ruling party, which indulged in corruption during its 15 year of rule.
He credited strong party organisation for the impressive showing and said he was not expecting such a big margin of victory.
“Congress had been standing with each and every section of the State. Therefore, it has received their immense support in the election,” Mr. Baghel told PTI .
Congress to form govt in Chhattisgarh
The Congress forming the next government in Chhattisgarh became a mere formality on Tuesday as Chief Minister Raman Singh of the BJP resigned, after his party’s disappointing performance in the State Assembly polls.
Congress is leading in 64, while BJP was relegated to a distant second spot with 18 seats, as per latest trends available in 89 of the 90 seats in the House.
Meanwhile, Mr. Raman Singh refused to pass the buck on the BJP’s national leadership over the setback after 15 years of the party’s rule in the state.
“The election was solely contested on State agenda and it is not related to Delhi. We will sit with the party workers and analyse the defeat in detail.”
“This will not reflect on the Lok Sabha election scheduled in 2019. The issues for the Lok Sabha are different and election will be contested on those issues,” he said.
“It is time to work in a new role for Chhattisgarh. We will work with full vigour,” Mr. Raman Singh said. — PTI
'We have won the semifinal'
“We have just won the semifinal, we shall win final too under Rahul Gandhi's leadership,” says Chattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee president Bhupesh Baghel.
Raman Singh resigns
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh resigns. “I have submitted my resignation to Chhattisgarh Governor,” says Raman Singh.
Raman Singh says he accepts responsibility for BJP’s poll performance in Chhattisgarh and that “we [party] will sit and introspect”. — PTI
BJP’s hold on SC seats loosens, leads in 2 of 10
The ruling BJP seems to have lost its hold on the Assembly seats reserved for Scheduled Castes in Chhattisgarh as per trends from the vote counting currently under way.
The BJP was leading in only two of the 10 SC reserved seats while in the 2013 Assembly polls, the party had won nine of them.
This time, the opposition Congress is leading in six seats while the BSP is ahead in two.
While BJP State minister Dayaldas Baghel was trailing in Navagarh (SC) seat by a margin of 12,037 votes, another minister Punnulal Mohile was leading by a margin of 4,798 votes in Mungeli (SC) seat.
Scheduled Castes make up roughly 12% of the State’s 2.5 crore population and a sizable number of them follow the Satnami sect.
Polls for the 90-member House in the State took place in two phases on November 12 and 20. — PTI
Raman Singh leads
Outgoing Chief Minister Raman Singh is leading by about 5,000 votes in Rajnandgaon. He won by a margin of 35,866 votes in 2013.
The BSP is leading in Bilaigarh, Jaijaipur and Pamgarh constituencies. The party sent only one candidate in the last Assembly election. Keshaw Chandra, the lone BSP MLA continues to lead in Jaijaipur.
The newly-floated Janta Congress Chhattisgarh is leading in five constituencies. Party leader Ajit Jogi is leading in Marwahi, while his wife Renu is leading in Kota. The party is leading in Balodabazar, Khairagarh, and Lormi as well.
The JCC fought the election jointly with the BSP. Former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi quit Congress and floated the JCC after the Congress expelled his son Amit Jogi for alleged anti-party activites.
The Gondwana Gantantra Party or the GGP was floated in 1991 focussing on the tribal communities of Central India. It has been unsuccessfully contesting elections since then in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. Will it be able to open its account this year? Its leader Hira Singh Markam is leading in Pali-tanakhar by a maargin of over 6000 votes.
Congress is leading in 61 seats, way past the half-way mark. The party contested elections without a chief ministerial candidate.
Congress, which has 39 legislators in the outgoing House BJP has 10 more - appeared to have gotten its act together in the tribal-dominated State.
5 Ministers trail, 2 lead
State Minister Rajesh Munat is behind Congress’ Vikas Upadhyay in Raipur City West Assembly seat, Amar Agarwal is trailing behind Shailesh Pande of the Congress in Bilaspur segment, while Brij Mohan Agarwal is behind Congress’ Kanhaiyya Agrawal in Raipur city south segment.
Besides, Minister Kedarnath Kashyap is closely behind Narayan Kashyap of the Congress in Narayanpur segment while Dayal Das Baghel is trailing behind Congress’ Gurudayal Singh Banjare in Navagarh segment.
Another Minister Mahesh Gagdha is also trailing behind Congress’ Vikram Mandavi in Bijapur segment.
Minister Prem Prakash Pandey is ahead of Congress candidate Devendra Yadav in Bhilainagar seat, while Lal Rajwade is leading over Ambika Singh Dev of the Congress in Bainkuthpur.
BJP Minister Ajay Chandrakar is also leading over Laxmikanta Sahu of the Congress in Kurud seat, as per the latest trends.
State presidents of the BJP and the Congress — Dharamlal Kaushik and Bhupesh Baghel — are leading in Bilha and Patan seats respectively.
Leader of Opposition T.S. Singhdeo and Congress MP from Durg Lok Sabha seat Tamradhwaj Sau are leading in Ambikapur and Durg Rural seats, respectively. - PTI
In Konta, Lakma leads
The CPI’s Manish Kunjam is trailing by 202 votes in Konta behind Congress’ Kawasi Lakma. This constituency saw the least voting turnout in the entire State.
Mr. Lakma was the only person who survived the deadly maoist attack on the Congress leadership in 2013, in Darbha valley. A battalion of Naxalites attacked the motorcade of the Congress workers and leaders in the hilly areas of Darbha while they were returning from Sukma after an election rally.
Mahendra Karma, who founded Salwa Judum to combat Maoists, senior Congress leaders V.C. Shukla, Uday Mudaliar, and Nand Kumar Patel, and 18 party workers died in the ambush.
People voted against BJP, says Mamata
“People voted against BJP,” said the West bengal Chief Minister in a statement. “This is the people’s verdict and victory of the people of this country. Victory of democracy and victory against injustice, atrocities, destruction of institutions, misuse of agencies, no work for poor people, farmers, youth, Dalits, SC, ST, OBC, minorities and general caste. Semifinal proves that BJP is nowhere in all the states. This is a real democratic indication of 2019 final match. Ultimately, people are always the ‘man of the match’ of democracy. My congrats to the winners.”
Congress up in Bastar
In the Maoist-affected Bastar region, the Congress is leading in all 12 seats.
A massive security blanket was thrown over Bastar division in south Chhattisgarh ahead of polling. This was even though the government has been claiming a decline in left-wing insurgency. Additional Central paramilitary forces have been deployed in the sensitive region. As many as 600 additional companies of Central paramilitary and State armed forces were stationed across the 18 constituencies where voting took place.
Congress leads in 53 seats
“The BJP was talking about Mission 65. What they actually meant was 65 seats for the Congress,” said P.L. Punia, Congress state in-charge for Chhattisgarh.
Incumbent Chief Minister Raman Singh is leading in Rajnandgaon by a very slim margin — 145 votes — against the Congress’ Karuna Shukla. Ms Shukla is former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s niece.
Early trends show Congress leading in 34 seats
In early trends on 89 seats, the Congress is leading in 34, the BJP in 15 and Janata Congress Chattisgarh in 4.
T.S. Singh Deo, one of the frontrunners for the post of Chief Minister if the Congress wins, is leading by 3,277 votes in Ambikapur. Ajit Jogi and his wife Renu Jogi are also leading in Marwahi and Kota. Many Ministers of Raman Singh government are trailing including Kedar Kashyap, Amar Agarwal, Brijmohan Agarwal.
Silence outside Raman Singh’s residence
Outside Chhattisgarh’s incumbent Chief Minister Raman Singh’s residence in Raipur, there is no activity.
The BJP headquarters Ekatam Parishad wore a deserted look with only a clutch of television reporters standing in front of the office.
The mood inside was also sombre. With a half a dozen party functionaries sitting in front of four television screens following the results, there were no sloganeering or cheers. The functionaries were consoling each other saying there is still time for the results.
Congress office adopts festive mood
At 9.30 a.m. as the early trends show that the Congress leads in 50 seats and the BJP in 19 seats, the party office wore a festive look.
“ Arre jao diya, mithai khareed lao ,” Girish Devangan, Congress leader bellowed (Go buy lamps and sweets). While others clapped and thumped the desk at the cue. And spontaneous cheers poured in with resounding slogans “Congress party zindabad, zindabad.”
Seats to watch out for
The seats to watch out for this morning are the eight seats of Jangir Champa Lok Sabha Constituency — Akaltara, Jangir Champa, Sakti, Chandrapur, Jaijaipur, Pamgarh, Bilaigarh and Kasdol. Out of these Congress held only Akaltara and Jangir Champa in 2013. And BSP held Jaijaipur, remaining were with the BJP.
Dalit vote may decide govt
In a State with a predominantly tribal population, it’s the Dalit vote that can potentially decide the next government. The Dalit vote has become decisive with the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh, led by Ajit Jogi, tying up with the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Communist Party of India.
The alliance targets consolidation of the 12% Dalit votes that the Congress, the BJP and the BSP had been sharing so far. The BSP used to get the largest chunk. The Dalit vote has influence in at least 40 constituencies.
Counting begins in 90 seats
Counting of votes has begun in 90 seats in Chhattisgarh. Postal ballots will be counted first.
Out of 29 seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes in the 90-member Assembly, 11 are with the BJP. In 2013, the Congress did well in south Chattisgarh where it bagged eight of 12 seats. In the north, the party got nine seats while the BJP got the remaining eight.
Four of the 12 tribal seats in the first phase saw a higher percentage compared to 2013.
A comparison between manifestoes
Congress president Rahul Gandhi released the party manifesto in Rajnandgaon, that promises farm loan waiver, minimum support price for crops as per the Swaminathan Commission recommendations and ban on liquor sales.
The next day, the BJP released its manifesto — 'Sanklap Patar', with a special focus on farmers and youth.
The ascent of Sindhis
Members of the Sindhi community said that they did not mind who won in Raipur North as long as only Sindhi candidates are nominated by all parties. “We wanted to ensure that Raipur North turns into a dedicated Sindhi seat. It nearly happened this time but the Congress withdrew its Sindhi candidate,” said a community member close to the BJP.
Sindhis now control many trades in Chattisgarh — from mobile phones, automobiles and clothes to kirana (grocery) stores, which were with other communities earlier.
VVPATs do well in Chhattisgarh
The two phases of the Assembly election in Chhattisgarh recorded low failure of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) units compared with their performance in recent polls.
During polling, only 0.34% of the ballot units, 0.39% of the control units and 1.89% of the VVPATs had to be replaced. The figures for the mock polls stood at 0.72%, 0.88% and 1.68%.
Difference between BJP and Congress was 0.71 per cent. Out of 29 seats ST reserved seats Congress held 18. This includes Marwahi which was held by Amit Jogi and this time Ajit Jogi himself is fighting from here. The lone SC reserved seat @INCIndia held was Masturi. The lone seat won by BSP was a general constituency Jaijaipur.
HC dismisses Congress plea for VVPAT counting in half of booths
The Chhattisgarh High Court on Monday dismissed a writ petition filed by a Congress leader seeking counting of VVPAT slips in 50 per cent of the polling booths in all the assembly constituencies during counting of votes on Tuesday.
The petitioner Girish Dewangan, general secretary of the Chhattisgarh Congress, had also requested the High Court to direct the Election Commission of India (ECI) to maintain security of the EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) and the strong rooms where they are kept.
A single judge bench of Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra dismissed the plea observing that the court, while exercising power under Article 226 of the Constitution, is not entitled to prescribe a new method for counting of the VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) slips than the one prescribed by the Election Commission under articles 324 and 329.
“Dewangan had filed the petition on December 6 in view of complaints pertaining to tampering of EVMs in the state,” said petitioner’s lawyer Satish Chandra Verma.