Chhattisgarh polls: SCs, STs split in backing BJP, Congress
There appears to be a vertical split in SC and ST voters in Chhattisgarh as far as handing over decisive mandate to Raman Singh government is concerned, with the former extending their support to the ruling party and the latter rallying behind Congress.
Raipur: There appears to be a vertical split in SC and ST voters in Chhattisgarh as far as handing over decisive mandate to Raman Singh government is concerned, with the former extending their support to the ruling party and the latter rallying behind Congress.
Unlike previous Assembly elections, Scheduled Caste voters drifted largely towards BJP this time despite the Raman Singh government pruning their reservation quota.
Contrary to speculations that SCs will support Congress, which is desperately seeking a comeback and thwarting of Raman Singh`s dream run for the third consecutive term, the BJP bagged 9 out of 10 SC seats, leaving just one for it rival.
In 2008, BJP had won five out of 10 SC seats and Congress four, while Pamgarh constituency was pocketed by Mayawati`s BSP.
The results stunned Congress as it had promised in its poll manifesto to restore the SC quota to 16% from the current 12 % under Raman Singh rule if voted to power.
Not only this but the community, which constitutes 12 per cent of the state`s population of 2.5 crore, also jettisoned its prominent leaders Haridas Bhardwaj and Shivkumar Dahariya.
Ten out of 90 assembly seats are reserved for SCs.
According to political observers, BJP`s development scheme and overall record of good governance helped it in weaning away SCs from Congress this time.
However, BJP suffered a setback from its tribal loyalists who switched their loyalty to Congress this time, helping it improving its tally in Bastar region which had catapulted BJP to power in last two terms.
Of the 12 seats in this naxal-infested region, Congress wrested eight seats from BJP. However, BJP managed to off-set the adverse impact by improving its tally in plains.
However, ST voters apparently rallied behind Congress.
Out of 29 seats reserved for STs that were up for grabs, Congress managed to improve its tally by 8 seats to 18 this time whereas BJP`s number fell to 11 from 19 seats it had won in 2008 elections.
In 2003 Assembly elections, out of 10 seats reserved
for SCs, BJP and Congress had each won four seats and BSP two seats, whereas out of 34 ST seats, BJP had secured 25 seats and Congress 9.
BSP could win just a single seat this time. Interestingly, prominent tribal leaders from camps of both BJP and Congress, saw their political fortunes plummeting this time.
Incumbent Sports Minister Lata Usendi is among six tribal MLAs of the ruling party who lost in Bastar.
BJP had denied tickets to two sitting MLAs from Kanker and Bhanupratappur seats and fielded new faces who also suffered a setback against Congress in the region.
In tribal-dominated Sarguaja region, Congress won 7 ST seats and BJP 6.
While BJP`s senior tribal leaders like home minister Nankiram Kanwar and water resources minister Ramvcihar Netam bit the dust, Congress too suffered in the defeat of tribal stalwarts Rampukar Singh, Bodhram Kanwar and Premsai Singh from northern Chhattisgarh.
A total of 21 sitting MLAs of BJP, including Speaker Dharamlal Kaushik, deputy speaker Narayan Chandel and ministers lost. Worse for Congress, as many as 26 of its sitting legislators, including the leader of opposition Ravindra Choubey, lost the polls.
Rural and Panchayat Development Minister Hemchand Yadav and Agriculture minister Chandrashekhar Sahu are other prominent BJP losers.