BJP's Longest-Serving CM vs Vajpayee's Niece Among 10 High-Voltage Contests in Chhattisgarh
Here’s a look at the key constituencies in the state where many leaders are contesting again, and in some cases, fighting the same opponents.
Voters wait in queues to cast their votes during the first phase of Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh at a polling station in Narayanpur. (File photo: PTI)
Raipur: The exit polls have predicted a slim advantage for the Congress that has been out of power in Chhattisgarh since 2003, giving sleepless nights to Raman Singh, the longest-serving BJP Chief Minister who is looking to get elected for the fourth consecutive term. The halfway mark in the 90-seat assembly is 46 seats. In 2013, the BJP had won 49 seats, the Congress 39 and the BSP had managed one. Here’s a look at the key constituencies in the state where many leaders are contesting again, and in some cases, fighting the same opponents.
Rajnandgaon is an important constituency, and the battle here is to watch out for. Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh is contesting from here and Congress has fielded Karuna Shukla, the niece of former Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In the 2013 election, Singh had defeated Congress leader Alka Uday Mudliyar from this seat by a margin of 35,866 votes. As per the election data, 1,80,300 voters exercised their franchise in the constituency.
In 2013, a total of 2,23,950 voters had cast their votes in Bilaspur where the BJP’s Amar Agrawal was pitted against Congress leader Vani Rao. Agrawal won 72,255 votes and Rao won 56,656. The constituency witnessed a high-pitched campaign this year with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding a rally in Bilaspur on November 12. Agarwal is standing for the polls again this year. His rival though has changed - Congress has fielded Shailesh Pandey on the seat. Brijesh Sahu is standing on JCC ticket for the seat.
The Takhtpur constituency is considered to be a BJP stronghold. It would be interesting to see how a campaign by Congress will yield electoral results in the party’s favour. In 2013, BJP’s Raju Singh Kshatri defeated Congress leader Ashish Singh Thakur from the Takhatpur seat by a margin of 608 votes. The 2013 election data shows 1,84,723 votes were cast. For the 2018 polls, BJP's Harshita Pandey is contesting against Congress leader Dr Rashmi Singh and JCC's Santosh Kaushik (Guruji).
It was during a rally in Ambikapur that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raked up his past: 'How can chaiwala become the prime minister?’ The goal of this power-packed rally was to establish BJP candidate Anurag Singh Deo as a key leader. Deo was outed in 2013 by Congress leader TS Baba with a margin of 19,558 votes. In 2018, Deo and Baba are back in the fray, with Sita Ram Das from the BSP fighting for the seat.
The Bastar seat was won by the Congress in 2013, with Baghel Lakheshwar defeating the BJP’s Dr Subhaoo Kashyap with a margin of 19,168 votes. This time, too, Lakheshwar and Kashyap are pitted against each other over the reserved ST seat. The constituency was in headlines due to a series of attacks on security forces by Naxalites ahead of the first phase of polls.
The Naxal-infested Dantewada, which is the third least populous district in Chhattisgarh, is the worst affected by left-wing extremists. In 2013, Devti Karma of Congress had defeated BJP’s Bhimaram Mandavi by a margin of 5,900 votes. This year again, the seat will witness a fierce contest between Mandavi and Devti, with BSP’s Keshav Netam giving both a tough fight. In the 2008 assembly elections, Mandavi had claimed victory by bagging 36,812 votes against CPI’s Manish Kunjam who was second with 24,805 votes.
In the 2013 polls, the BJP's Rajsharan Bhagat had won against Congress candidate Sarhul Ram Bhagat by a margin of 34,349 votes. This time, the saffron party is fielding Govind Ram Bhagat and Congress has zeroed in on Vinay Kumar Bhagat. BSP’s Gaganmati Bhagat is also contesting from this seat. The Jashpur region has a large population of Christians and also houses Asia's second largest church in Kunkuri.
Kawardha is part of Chhattisgarh’s Kabhirdham district. In 2013, the BJP's Ashok Sahu defeated Congress candidate Akbar Bhai by 2,558 votes. Given the narrow victory margin of last time, Bhai is confident of winning this time and taking the reins from Sahu, who he is fighting again. Janta Congress Chhattisgarh leader Agam Das Anant has also been fielded from this seat.
BJP's Gauri Shankar Agrawal, who defeated Congress candidate Rajkamal Singhaniya with 22,928 votes in the last elections, is back in the fray. As per the past records the Congress has won two out of three elections from this seat while BJP has won only once. Weather or not Agarwal retains his past glory is a touch question to answer as the NCP candidate Shakuntala Sahu and BSP’s Rameshwar Prasad Kaiwart have gone all out to give him a tough fight.
BJP's Santosh Bafnam who had defeated Congress candidate Shamu Kashyap by a margin of 16,658 votes, is in the fray again. While the Congress enjoys prominence in 12 Vidhan Sabha seats of the Bastar division, it had lost the Jagdalpur seat to the BJP by 17,000 votes.
This time, Bafnam is fighting Rekhchand Jain who is contesting on a Congress ticket, and Janta Congress Chhattisgarh candidate Amit Pandey.
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