Raipur: Chhattisgarh`s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is locked in a tough contest with the Congress in its stronghold for a Bhatgaon assembly seat by-poll Friday.
The BJP, which has 47 seats in a 90-member state assembly, is desperate to retain the seat which fell vacant following the death of its sitting legislator Ravi Shankar Tripathi, 55, in a car crash in April.
The saffron party has fielded the late leader`s wife Rajni Tripathi while the Congress has picked U.S. Singhdeo of the erstwhile royal family of Surguja as its candidate.
The seat that falls under tribal dominant Surguja district was comfortably won by the BJP in the last polls in November 2008 and the Congress even lost its poll deposit.
But political analysts and reports coming in from Bhatgaon indicate that the BJP is finding the battle extremely tough this time despite Chief Minister Raman Singh holding a series of road shows and party veteran Dilip Singh Judeo addressing several rallies since Monday.
Raman Singh announced that the BJP was fighting the election on the plank of `development` while the Congress was seeking votes against a government that was "mired in corruption and scandals" since it came to power in December 2003 dislodging Ajit Jogi-led Congress regime.
The Congress has 39 members in the state assembly and it needs to wrest the seat from the BJP to narrow the margin with the ruling party as by-election for one more seat -- Balod -- in Durg district is set to be held soon following death of the BJP`s sitting legislator Madanlal Sahu late last month.
The election result for Bhatgaon seat will be announced Oct 4.