Chhattisgarh exit polls predict Congress win: Factors that may have cost BJP dear
The India Today-My Axis India exit poll says BJP will win only 21-31 of the state’s 90 seats.
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Is the BJP’s 15-year stint in power in Chhattisgarh about to end? The India Today-My Axis India exit poll definitely says so — predicting the Congress will win 55-65 of the state’s 90 seats.
The BJP is predicted to bag 21-31 seats and the Ajit Jogi-Mayawati combination the remaining 4-8 seats.
A significant indication by the exit poll is that there will be a 7% difference in vote share between the Congress and the BJP. Chhattisgarh usually sees a narrow difference in vote-share — in 2013, it 0.7%.
So what seems to have pushed voters so firmly away from the BJP, and the long-popular CM Raman Singh?
The answers seem to be anti-incumbency, general poverty in the state, unemployment and the Naxalite menace.
Chhattisgarh has been among the worst Maoist-violence hit states in the country, with the extremists wielding considerable influence in 18 Assembly seats spread across eight districts. In the run-up to the polls, Maoists had given a boycott call, and scaled up attacks — in a space of 15 days, six attacks were carried out, leaving 13 people dead.
During campaigning, both parties tried to push this undeniable problem onto each other — while PM Modi himself alleged in a rally that ‘urban Naxals were remote-controlling the insurgency’, the Congress says the BJP government has failed at controlling the menance.
With the BJP in the saddle, the Congress’ charge obviously sticks more.
Next come the issues of unemployment and poverty.
Raman Singh has done some good work — but 15 years of anti-incumbency can overshadow that. (Photo: India Today)
The Congress’ campaign has been centered around these, claiming irregularities in the public distribution schemes were keeping benefits from the people, and making very lucrative promises — an MSP of Rs 2,500 per quintal for paddy crops, 35 kg of rice every month for at Re 1 for poor families, and loan waivers.
Queering the Chhattisgarh poll pitch was the recent, and unexpected, coming together of Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC) and Mayawati’s BSP.
The alliance was widely perceived as harming the Congress, because it would eat into the SC-ST vote share. But the Congress seems to have cleverly side-stepped the threat by concentrating on wooing OBCs.
Also, in several seats, the alliance had fielded candidates who belonged to the caste/community of the BJP candidate.
If the exit polls come true, the Congress will have much to celebrate in a state where it has been in power for all of three years.