Chhattisgarh, under BJP rule for the last 15 years, is set to see a change in government after today's definitive results.
While this looks like Congress’ best chance to come back to power after a long time, the party may have a tough time choosing the first among equals as its chief ministerial candidate.
Here’s a look at four leaders who could emerge as Chhattisgarh’s new chief minister.
Bhupesh Baghel, the president of the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee, is among the frontrunners for the post.
Bhupesh Baghel is the president of the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee. (Photo: Facebook/Bhupesh Baghel)
Baghel is a four-term MLA from Patan, and has been associated with the Congress since the 1980s, when he was a member of the Youth Congress. He has served as minister in the government of Digvijaya Singh, when Chhattisgarh was part of Madhya Pradesh, and later in Ajit Jogi’s cabinet too.
Baghel rose to prominence after almost the entire state leadership of the Congress was wiped out in the 2013 Darbha Maoist attack.
Since then, he has been trying to revive the Congress, but is none too popular within the party. Also, his involvement in the ‘sex CDs’ scandal of a BJP leader has lent an unsavoury dimension to his image.
TS Singh Deo
When asked about the probable CM from Congress recently, TS Singh Deo, the leader of Opposition in the Chhattisgarh Assembly, said the candidate would be chosen through a ‘swayamvar like Sita’s’, after the polls.
TS Singh Deo is among the richest candidates in the poll fray. (Photo: Twitter/TS Singh Deo)
Deo, the sophisticated contrast to the rough-around-the-edges Baghel, is among the contestants in that swayamvar. An erstwhile royal, Deo is the sitting MLA from Ambikapur, the capital of his former princely state Sarguja.
Among the richest candidates in the poll fray, Deo faces accusations of going soft on CM Raman Singh.
Sahu is the lone Congress MP from Chhattisgarh, representing the Durg constituency. Sahu’s community has become especially significant in these elections as both the Congress and the BJP are wooing OBCs assiduously with fears of SC-ST votes going to the Ajit Jogi-Mayawati alliance.
Sahu is the chief of the Congress’ state OBC unit.
Sahu is considered close to Rahul Gandhi. (Photo: Facebook/Tamradhwaj Sahu)
The party is hoping that promoting Sahu might help the party in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls too — but, reputed to be aloof, he is not a very popular MP.
The MP, however, is considered close to Rahul Gandhi.
Charan Das Mahant
Charan Das Mahant, contesting the polls from Sakti, is among the better-known Congress faces in the state. When Digvijaya Singh was the CM of Madhya Pradesh, Mahant had served as a minister. He was also a minister of state in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet.
Mahant was a minister of state in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet. (Photo: Twitter)
Mahant was the state party president in 2008, when BJP under Raman Singh defeated the Congress to form the government.