The victory margin for the Congress, where it wrested power from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after 15 years, surprised even the winning party’s state chief Bhupesh Baghel. “We were not expecting such a big blessing from the people. We were expecting around 60 seats,” he said.
At the time of going to print, the Congress was leading in 64 seats, while the BJP was leading in only 17. The Assembly has 90 seats.
The Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) of former chief minister (CM) Ajit Jogi was ahead in five seats while the Communist Party of India (CPI), the Gondwana Gantantra Party and the CPI (Marxist) were leading in one each.
With the Congress most likely to form the next government, incumbent CM Raman Singh submitted his resignation and accepted full responsibility for the BJP’s poor performance.
He refused to pass the buck to the national leadership for the setback. “The election was solely contested on state agenda... We will sit with the party workers and analyse the defeat in detail,” said Singh. “This will not reflect on the Lok Sabha election in 2019. The issues for the Lok Sabha are different.”
Five ministers of his government — Brijmohan Agrawal (Raipur City South), Kedar Kashyap (Narayanpur constituency), Mahesh Gagda (Bijapur), Dayaldas Baghel (Nawagarh), and Amar Agrawal (Bilaspur) — were also trailing. Congress state chief Baghel, along with T S Singhdeo, are leading the race to become the next CM. Baghel, however, said it was on the party’s high command to pick a CM.
He also showered praises on Congress President Rahul Gandhi for the victory in the state. “The result is the outcome of unity of my party leaders and efforts of booth level workers... The party is heading to a historic victory and credit for it goes to... Rahul Gandhi, he added. Gandhi addressed around 19 public meetings as part of the poll campaign.
According to him, the Congress raised issues related to farmers, labourers, ethnic communities, students, women and youth.
“Congress had been standing with each and every section of the state. Therefore, it has received their immense support in the election,” Baghel said.
“The BJP has only cheated the people of the state during its three-term rule. It was neck-deep in corruption. People have given them a befitting reply,” he added. “We strengthened the Congress organisation at the basic level under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership and through that we fought the battle for the common man.”