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BJP sweeps Chhattisgarh again

Aarti Dhar

NEW DELHI: Chhattisgarh is the only State where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the Lok Sabha elections for a second consecutive term, winning 10 of the 11 seats.

Chief Minister Raman Singh led the party to victory in the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 and the Assembly elections in November 2008. His popularity seems to have worked for the party this time, too.

The lone seat that went to the Congress was the newly created Korba Lok Sabha constituency, from where the BJP had fielded the former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s niece Karuna Shukla, a sitting Lok Sabha member from Janjgir-Champa.

She was pitted against State Congress working president Charandas Mahant. Mr. Mahant won the seat by more than 20,000 votes.

The big blow to the Congress came from Bilaspur, where the former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi’s wife Renu lost to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Dilip Singh Judev in a tough contest. The Jogi couple are members of the Chhattisgarh Assembly.

The BJP has been winning all elections in the State since 2003, when the party first came to power, defeating the Congress government led by Mr. Jogi.

In 2004, the BJP won 10 of the 11 seats. Mr. Jogi won Mahasamund. However, its count fell to nine when the Congress won the Rajnandgaon by-election in 2007, which fell vacant after BJP MP Pradeep Gandhi was expelled in the cash-for-query scam. Rajnandgaon is important because Mr. Raman Singh’s home town Kawardha comes under this constituency. BJP candidate Madhusudan Yadav has won this seat, defeating his Congress rival Devvrat Singh by a huge margin of more than one lakh votes.

The BJP also won the four seats reserved for the Scheduled Tribes — Bastar, Kanker, Surguja and Raigarh — and the lone seat reserved for the Scheduled Castes, Janjgir-Champa, from where the late Bahujan Samaj Party leader, Kanshi Ram, had contested.

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