After the first phase of polling on November 12, who’s who of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and top functionaries of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) mobilised in Sarguja for a crucial meet. The strategy for the second phase was redesigned.
Two top office bearers of the RSS left Sarguja---about 350 kms from here---to visit the pockets that were supposed to go to the polls in the second phase on November 20. They were on a mission as never two RSS functionaries of top stature travel together.
The party’s grass root workers and the cadre of affiliated organizations were fuming as the resentment against the Raman Singh government had spilled out in open. The chief minister failed to keep his own house in order as the alleged arrogance of ministers and top leaders coupled with aristocratic style of working of few bureaucrats handpicked by Singh had charged the cadre. Subsequently, it created an undercurrent against the BJP among the common people.
The mission did not yield the desired results. The Congress manifesto offering sops to the farmers and youths, and the reluctance of saffron cadre resulted in a humiliating defeat of BJP in Chhattisgarh to topple the 15-year-rule of Raman Singh. The defeat was embarrassing as it set aside outcomes of exit polls and predictions while ruling failed to retain even half the seats. The party had 49 seats in the 90-membered assembly.
“The resentment of cadre appeared to be more crucial as BJP had been literally wiped out in the first phase in which the Congress manifesto did not have any impact as it was released later,” said political observer Dhanvendra Jaiswal. In the first phase, BJP had managed to get only one out of 18 seats.
According to the latest figure, Congress had swiped out the Chhattisgarh poll by leading in 66 assembly constituencies while BJP was ahead in 17 seats. The alliance of Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC) headed by former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi and Bahujan Samaj Party (BJP) was leading in 7 seats. The JCC, as expected, failed to split the anti-BJP votes.
A large number of voters pressed the “Panja (hand)” with the impression that they were supporting Jogi who admitted that his party failed to communicate to the people that he was no more with Congress. JCC was allotted symbol just a couple of months ago.
Taking moral responsibility of the defeat, Singh said he respected the mandate. Earlier, he tendered his resignation as Chief Minister.
Elated with the thumping victory, Baghel said he had taken a vow to form the Congress government in Chhattisgarh and that stood fulfilled. “In the first cabinet meeting of the Congress government-in-waiting, order would be issued to waive off farm loan,” he said.
The Congress manifesto also promised minimum support price of Rs 2500 per quintal for paddy, regularization of contract workers etc. “Soon after government formation, steps would be taken to implement the promises made in the manifesto,” he added.
Ironically, BJP President Amit Shah had given the target of 65 Plus for Chhattisgarh. But he didn’t know Congress would fulfill it.