Chhattisgarh held voting in two phases for its 90 Assembly seats on November 12 and November 20. A voter turnout of 76.28% was recorded in the first phase and a turnout of 71.93% was recorded in the second phase.
Elections in the state were marred by allegations of tampering with voting machines and machines malfunctioning. On December 6, the Congress moved the Chhattisgarh High Court alleging irregularities in the polling.
The Bharatiya Janata Party led by Chief Minister Raman Singh has been in power in the state for 15 years now and faces significant anti-incumbency.
In the 2013 elections, the BJP won 49 of 90 seats followed by Congress with 39, Bahujan Samaj Party with one seat, and other independent candidates won the remaining.
The agrarian crisis in the state will play a big role in deciding which party will rule the state. In 2017, nearly 50,000 farmers held a rally in Rajnandgaon – Raman Singh’s constituency – demanding that the BJP government fulfil its 2013 campaign promises to farmers, such as providing Rs 2,100 as minimum support price.
In September, two months before the state held elections, the government announced a Rs 300-bonus for each quintal of paddy.
Reports have also suggested that farmers in the state are delaying selling their crops in the hope that the Congress will win and pay them more remunerative prices. The Congress has promised to waive farm loans and raise the minimum support price.
There are also allegations of a Rs 36,000-crore scam in the Public Distribution System network and allegations against the chief minister’s son Abhishek Singh for allegedly having offshore assets that were revealed in the Panama Papers leaked in 2015.
Elections in the state are also important because of the large security cover in districts that have a heavy presence of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). In specific districts of the state, there is also the question of Maoist-related violence. In October, a Doordarshan video journalist Achyutanand Sahu and two police officials were killed in a Maoist attack in Dantewada district, while there were incidents of violence on polling days too.
Who are the contenders?
The Bharatiya Janata Party has been ruling the state since 2003, with the Congress as the main Opposition. In the 2013 elections, the saffron party’s vote share was only 0.7% more than the Congress’.
BJP’s Raman Singh and Congress state president Bhupesh Baghel are contenders for the chief minister’s post, while former chief minister and founder of Chhattisgarh Janata Congress Ajit Jogi, who was the first chief minister of the state, is likely play a crucial role in the event of a hung Assembly. Jogi has allied with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party in the state, which had come as a jolt to the Congress, whom many assumed the BSP would tie up with.
Exit polls have predicted a tight race between the BJP and Congress in the state. According to Times Now-CNX, the Congress will win 35 seats and the BJP 46 seats. India TV’s exit poll shows the BJP winning 42-50 seats and the Congress 32-38. The majority mark in the state is 46 seats.
Exit polls also predicted the Bahujan Samaj Party-led alliance likely to win seven seats.
In 2013, the BJP and Congress had a closely contested election. Though the Congress managed higher margins of victory, they failed to translate this into forming the new government. By the slimmest of margins, the BJP won the state, but with no party truly dominating the other.