Raipur, Oct 7: Owing to an alliance between the newly-constituted Janata Congress Chhattisgarh and the Bahujan Samaj Party, Chhattisgarh could be a theater for a triangular contest in coming elections.
Founded in 2000, Chhattisgarh witnessed a direct contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress in assembly elections in 2003, 2008 and 2013 – with the BJP securing 39.26, 40.33 and 42.30 per cent votes respectively as compared to 36.71, 38.63 and 41.60 per cent votes garnered by the Congress.
Political experts opine that the Congress was ousted from power in 2003, as senior party leader Vidyacharan Shukla left the party and joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Though the then chief minister Ajit Jogi was confident of a victory, the NCP – which obtained seven per cent of votes polled – played a spoilsport in 27 seats.
The Congress trailed behind in 10 seats by merely 0.7 per cent votes. The BSP received 4.45 per cent votes in these elections. The BJP emerged triumphant with 50 seats while the Congress, the BSP and the NCP bagged 37, two and one seat respectively.
With the influence of Left parties being confined to a few seats and the BSP's marginal presence, the BJP and the Congress fought neck-and-neck once again in 2008.
The saffron party enhanced its vote share by nearly one per cent and managed to win 50 seats again. Even though the vote percentage of the Congress increased by two per cent, the number of seats increased by just one to 38. Likewise, the vote share of the BSP spurted by approximately one-and-half percentage but the number of seats remained unchanged at two. Other parties witnessed a dip in their vote percentage.
At the height of Modi wave in 2013, the BJP's vote share soared by two per cent, but the voting percentage of the Congress too expanded by three per cent. The competition was so fierce that the margin of difference in the vote share was merely half percentage between both parties.
Nonetheless, the BJP suffered loss of only one seat and emerged victorious with 49 seats while the Congress added one more seat in its kitty fetching 39 seats in total. On the other hand, a loss of two percentage votes pushed the BSP down to a lone seat.
Making the contest triangular in 2018, the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh and the BSP forged an alliance recently. The JCC has decided to contest from 55 seats whereas the BSP would try its fortunes from 35 seats.
Former chief minister Ajit Jogi wields a considerable influence in rural areas. He holds sway among Scheduled Caste voters as well. The BSP too has mass base among these sections. Out of Chhattisgarh's 90 seats, 10 are reserved for the SC community. Of them, the BJP holds nine seats while the Congress has one seat at present.
The BSP would be contesting from all six seats in Janjgir Champa where it enjoys mass base. Political experts believe that the alliance would pose a stiff challenge to both main parties in several seats, and possibly make a dent in their vote share.
Chief Minister Raman Singh has admitted that the contest would be triangular. However, State Congress President Bhupesh Baghel do not consider the alliance to be a force, and believes that the main fight is between the BJP and the Congress.(UNI)