Chhattisgarh has been a bastion of incumbent Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strongman Raman Singh, who has been in power since 2003. However, the exit polls of Chhattisgarh have raised worries for the ruling BJP, suggesting that the Congress may regain power in the state. The polling in the Naxal-hit state was held in two phases, on November 12 and November 20, and recorded a voter turnout of 76.35%, despite a call for poll boycott.
Similar to other states, the Congress did not declare a chief ministerial candidate before the elections, declaring that a decision on the same would be taken only after the results are out on December 11.
Here’s a look at the contenders for the top post in Chhattisgarh:
1. Raman Singh:
In 1999, Raman Singh was elected as a member of Lok Sabha from Rajnandgaon constituency and was made a minister of state in Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government at the Centre. In 2003, when the BJP won the first elections in the state, party’s top state leader Dilip Singh Judeo got embroiled in bribery allegations. The BJP then installed Raman Singh as the Chief Minister of the state, where he has retained power for three consecutive terms. Singh is the longest serving Chief Minister of the BJP, having three years more than Narendra Modi’s tenure as Gujarat Chief Minister.
2. Bhupesh Baghel:
Baghel is a senior Congress leader who was elected as the head of the Chhattisgarh unit of the party in 2014. He had won the 2013 Assembly elections in the state with a margin of almost 70,000 votes from Patan constituency. He contested the 2018 Assembly elections from the same seat. The Congress leader has, however, been embroiled a controversy related to an alleged fake sex CD. He was named in a CBI chargesheet in connection with the case in September, just months before the Assembly elections.
3. Ajit Jogi
The mention of Chhattisgarh cannot be complete without the mention of state’s first chief minister, Ajit Jogi. Once the top leader of the Congress party in Chhattisgarh, Jogi has now formed his own party called Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC), which is contesting the 2018 Assembly elections in alliance with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Announcing the alliance before the elections at a press conference, BSP supremo Mayawati had said that Jogi would be the Chief Minister of the state if the non-Congress and non-BJP alliance managed to win the elections.