Though the Congress had initially gained mileage after announcing its first list of candidates ahead of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the first phase of Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh to be held on November 11 — both by using Rahul Gandhi formula and ‘sympathy factor’, a pre-poll survey has projected the ruling BJP as the ultimate winner.
According to the pre-poll survey conducted jointly by the CNN-IBN, The Week and the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), the BJP will get another term to rule in Chhattisgarh and expected to get 61-71 seats.
The Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi got a special survey done before giving tickets to party candidates, so as to ensure transparency and a fair-play in distribution of tickets to the “right candidates”. As a result, Samu Kashyap a Vanvasi Panchayat secretary from Jagdalpur, with no political lineage or a god-father to back him up, got Congress ticket to contest from Jagdalpur constituency. Overnight he became the poster boy for the faction-ridden Congress.
Considering the sympathy factor, Congress also gave tickets to Devati Karma from and Alka Mudliyar, widows of slain Congress leaders in Maoist ambush at Darbha Valley in Bastar, Mahendra Karma and Uday Mudliyar respectively. Ticket has also been given to slain State Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel’s son Umesh Patel. And, finally return of Ajit Jogi in the helm of affairs, has infused a renewed energy amongst Congress workers.
But, with the announcement of the second list and giving two tickets to Jogi’s wife Renu Jogi and son Amit Jogi raised eyebrows and caused dissension within the party, albeit, in a subtle manner. Though a section prefers Jogi as chief minister if Congress comes to power, the survey shows Raman Singh as the most preferred CM on the basis of performance (69 per cent).
Despite a drop in satisfaction level in government performance to 66 per cent from 72 per cent, the survey keeps BJP ahead by projecting that the party will surpass its previous 50 seats in 2008, and would get 10 to 20 seats more this time.
The first phase of polling in Chhattisgarh will take place in the Maoist hotbed in 18 constituencies in eight districts — Bastar, Bijapur, Kondagaon, Sukma, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Kanker and Rajnandgaon. Reflecting on the mood in the Maoist-affected South Chhattisgarh, with 13 seats, the pre-poll survey forecasts BJP ahead of the Congress, and this can prove to be game-changer.
A keen contest seems to be offing in chief minister’s home constituency — Rajanandgaon, where he will take on Alka Mudliyar. The chief minister Dr Raman Singh has apparently claimed that he would create a record of sorts by getting re-elected.
The belt comprising 18 constituencies and facing the first phase of Chhattisgarh election, has a sizeable converted Christian Vanvasi population, whose votes matter a lot, and will add to the winnability factor. “Christian community is with the BJP and we’ll ensure that under the leadership of Dr Raman Singh, the party comes to power for the third time,” said Bernard Rodrigues, a nominated MLA from the Anglo-Indian Community in the Chhattisgarh Assembly. In addition, the BJP seems to have an upper hand with the inclusion of Kamal Chandra Bhanj Deo, the grandson of much adored erstwhile Bastar ruler Pravir Chandra Bhanj Deo’s younger brother. Bhanj Deo is expected to woo voters in favour of the party. But, the survey, with a small sample size of 1861 respondents predicting the BJP a gainer, might prove to be a tight rope walk for the ruling Raman Singh government to win votes in the Maoist hotbed Bastar.
CPI’s new political arithmetic and the most important of all – the anti-incumbency factor would have a lot to do with the ultimate victory – whether for the ruling BJP or the Opposition Congress in the first phase of the polls in Chhattisgarh.