In Ajit Jogi’s big Chhattisgarh gamble, turncoats play a crucial role

Ajit Jogi, who has tied up with Mayawati’s BSP, is hoping to capitalise on the latter’s core support among the SC voters of Bilaspur division to upset poll calculations.

Updated: Nov 20, 2018 10:50:01

By HT Correspondent

Chhattisgarh electoin 2018: First chief minister of Chhattisgarh and Founder-President, Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) Ajit Jogi. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

Former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi is hoping to emerge as the kingmaker in Chhattisgarh state and is banking on the second phase of voting on Tuesday when 72 of the 90 assembly seats go to poll. The tribal state has a history of nail-biting finishes in the elections. In the first phase of elections which took place on November 12, 18 seats were covered.

The 72 seats that are voting today in the second phase are spread across Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur and Sarguja division of Chhattisgarh. With Jogi allying with the Bahujan Samaj Party, nearly 20 seats in the state are witnessing a triangular contest.

Jogi is hoping to capitalise on the BSP’s core support among the Scheduled Caste voters of Bilaspur division, which accounts for 24 assembly seats out of which 12 are with the BJP, 11 with the Congress and 1 with the BSP, to upset poll calculations.

Chhattisgarh assembly elections 2018 Live Updates

Till date, Chhattisgarh has largely remained a bi-polar fight between the BJP and the Congress with parties such as the BSP ending up winning substantial votes but fewer seats. In the previous election, the BSP had fielded its candidates in all 90 seats and had won more than 5.5 lakh votes with a share of 4.4 per cent, but had one just one seat in the state.

Jogi who holds considerable influence in the Satnami voters - mostly the SCs - has borrowed about a dozen sulking leaders from the Congress and BJP and has fielded them on the BSP and his party the Chhattisgarh Janta Congress’s symbol

Also read | Why today’s Chhattisgarh election can shape Mayawati’s 2019 game plan

“He is hurting both the BJP and the Congress,” says psephologist Sudip Shrivastava.

The BSP had been in talks with the Congress for an alliance, but it broke after the latter turned down Mayawati’s demand for about a dozen seats.

She is trying to attempt a repeat of Karnataka in Chhattisgarh, hoping to emerge as kingmaker along with Jogi in case both the Congress and the BJP fall short of majority, say experts.

The outcome of the second round of voting will also decide whether the uninterrupted run of chief minister Raman Singh - who is BJP’s longest serving chief minister - will come to an end or he will get another shot at power.

For complete coverage on Chhattisgarh elections, read here.

First Published: Nov 20, 2018 08:43:01


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