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Chouhan, who will lead the party in the elections, replaced Babulal Gaur in 2005 after the latter had replaced Uma Bharti a year earlier. Chouhan has now completed seven years, the longest by any non-Congress chief minister. Uma Bharti challenged him in 2008 but was soundly defeated, and is now no longer a threat to him, for her return to the BJP was on the condition that she would keep away from MP politics. Chouhan, therefore, has no one to challenge him from within. And so far he has had voters, too, behind him. The BJP under him has won most of the by-elections since 2008.
What could have been his Achilles' heel, the "dumper case" in which he was accused of corruption, has lost steam with a high court ruling in his favour.
Sangma And left in N-E
Samudra Gupta Kashyap
February's three elections in the Northeast throw up a contrast in perspectives. Tripura will see the Left fight to retain its last remaining bastion, Nagaland's elections come at a crucial stage of the Naga talks, and Meghalaya's could be make or break for former Lok Sabha speaker Purno Sangma.
In Tripura, the Left is optimistic about a fifth victory in a row; it believes Manik Sarkar has been able to provide a clean, development-oriented government. The other reason is the state Congress is divided, and has no high-profile, Bengali-speaking vote-catcher from outside to bank on, with Pranab Mukherjee elevated as President and Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi ailing.
Politics in Meghalaya remains cloudy as ever, marked by defections. No party has ever had a majority in its 40-year history, except the All Party Hill Leaders' Conference in 1972; the past five years have seen three governments. Sangma's return to state politics will challenge the ruling Congress; his home district of Garo Hills has 24 of the 60 seats.