In Chhattisgarh, the Raman effect
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Among the most surprising candidates in Chhattisgarh this year was a municipal councillor, Ashok Sahu, from Chief Minister Raman Singh's hometown of Kawardha. The Congress had fielded stalwart Mohammad Akbar, among the visible and popular state leaders. The BJP workers had criticised their CM for fielding Sahu against a heavyweight in a year when the party was facing considerable anti-incumbency.
Five of the 12 cabinet ministers, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker were voted out on Sunday. The party fared badly in its strongholds of Bastar and Rajnandgaon. However, rookie Sahu won, along with all the candidates who Singh had handpicked and campaigned for.
Singh campaigned in over 80 of the 90 seats, first during his Vikas Yatra in April-May, and then just before the elections. Days before polling, the dissent against him grew in the party. Fearing a defeat, some in the BJP were already in talks with Independents and regional parties. But Singh, who has never spoken against his detractors, ignored all this and continued to campaign.
While his own partymen have called him arrogant, Singh seems to have gained wide acceptability among the masses. Despite a much weaker party and a far stronger opposition, as well as the anti-incumbency fear, he has managed to win a third term.
Interestingly, despite the state government's populist schemes, the tribal areas opted for the Congress. On the other hand, the BJP wrested the urban centres from the Congress, despite the latter winning several municipal elections there.
The BJP's final tally of 49 is one down from 2008. The Congress improved its poll percentage and got 40.66 per cent votes, just marginally less than the BJP's 41.3 per cent.