In Chhattisgarh, voting was held in the first three phases on April 11, 18 and 23 for a direct contest between the Congress and the BJP. The last year’s Assembly polls had come as a shocker for the BJP as the Congress wresting the state from the former riding on the anti-incumbency factor.
The exit poll has predicted a loss of at least four seats for the BJP while the Congress is set to improve its tally in the state with 5-7 seats.
In the 2014 general elections, the BJP had bagged 10 seats out of 11 in Chhattisgarh. This election, the BJP dropped former Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh's son and the sitting MP, Abhishek Singh, from its list of candidates who contested the Lok Sabha polls in the state. The party instead fielded Santosh Pandey from the Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha seat.
Here are some key contests that took place in this general election in the state:
Bastar: Baiduram Kashyap (BJP) versus Deepak Baij (Congress)
The Maoist-hit Bastar constituency has been a BJP bastion since 1996. In 2014, BJP’s Dinesh Kashyap defeated Congress’ Dinesh Karma from the seat reserved for Scheduled Tribe candidates. Kashyap was the winner in 2009 Lok Sabha election as well.
This time, the BJP has fielded Baiduram Kashyap who is a facing challenge from Congress candidate Deepak Baij.
Baliram Kashyap won the seat for the saffron party for four consecutive terms in 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2009. The Congress last won the elections in Bastar in 1991. Mahendra Karma won the seat as an independent candidate in 1996.
Rajnandgaon: Bholaram Sahu (Congress) versus Santhosh Pandey (BJP)
The BJP won the seat six times in 1989, 1996, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014. BJP's Abhishek Singh won the seat in 2014 by over 2,30,000 votes. His father and former Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh represented the seat in 1999.
For the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the seat is witnessing a contest between Congress’ Bholaram Sahu and BJP’s Santhosh Pandey.
Raipur: Sunil Soni (BJP) versus Pramod Dubey (Congress)
Raipur has been BJP's stronghold since 1989 and Ramesh Bais represented the constituency seven times in 1989, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014. In 2014, Bais defeated Congress candidate Satya Narayan Sharma by over 1,71,000 votes. Congress won the seat in 1991 when Vidya Charan Shukla managed a victory for the party.
In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has fielded Sunil Soni who is facing Pramod Dubey of the Congress.
Bilaspur: Arun Saw (BJP) versus Atal Shrivastav (Congress)
In 2014, BJP's Lakhan Lal Sahu defeated Congress candidate and Atal Bihari Vajapyee's niece Karuna Shukla by over 1,76,000 votes. In the last eight elections, the BJP won the Bilaspur Lok Sabha constituency seven times in 1989, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009, 2014 whereas the Congress won it in 1991.
The key candidates in the Bilaspur constituency for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 are Arun Sao of BJP and Atal Shrivastav of Congress.