Congress' state chief Bhupesh Baghel is one of the top contenders for the post of chief minister. (File photo)
Chhattisgarh Assembly Election 2018: In what is being touted as the semi-finals to the 2019 general elections, the high-voltage drama encompassing the election results is palpable. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is embattling a strong anti-incumbency sentiment, going by early trends, it seems the Congress is ready to make an inroad into the state once again after 15 years. However, former chief minister and Congress rebel Ajit Jogi's Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC)'s alliance with Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had added all the requisite spice. The state, which went to polls in two phases on November 12 and 20, recorded an overall voter turnout of 76.35 per cent. As the counting is underway, the Congress has taken a lead in 59 of the 90 seats, clearly crossing the half-way mark. BJP has taken a lead in 24 seats and JCC in 6.
The first phase of elections at 18 Assembly segments across the eight Naxal-hit districts took place on November 12. According to Election Commission of India, a voter turnout of between 60-70 per cent was recorded at the Bastar division and the Rajnandgaon district under the shadow of the Maoist threat. In the second phase of polling held on November 20 in the 72 Assembly seats, the voter turnout was recorded at 71.93 per cent.
In September, Mayawati announced an alliance with Jogi's party. The move came as a big blow to the Congress which had been making efforts to build a nation-wide alliance against the BJP. Jogi left the Congress in 2016 and floated his own party. The four members of the Jogi family belong to three political parties. While Jogi and his son are in the JCC(J), Jogi's wife and daughter-in-law are in the Congress and the BSP, respectively.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to lose Chhattisgarh this time, according to Exit Poll results declared on December 7. As per the News Nation Exit Poll, the BJP is likely to get only 38 to 42 Assembly seats. The Congress is likely to emerge as the single largest party with 40 to 44 seats. Jogi along with BSP can play a role of the kingmaker and is likely to get four to eight seats in the Assembly. The BJP is projected to get 38 per cent votes, while the Congress is likely to get 41 per cent of votes. The Jogi-led alliance is projected to get 13 per cent of votes. In 2013, the BJP had won 49 seats with 41.04 per cent of votes.
Apart from Raman Singh and Ajit Jogi, Congress' state chief Bhupesh Baghel is one of the top contenders for the post of chief minister. Baghel was a minister in the Digvijaya Singh Cabinet in undivided Madhya Pradesh. He contested the polls from the Patan Assembly constituency.