Just like in Karnataka, after the alliance between BSP and former Chhattisgarh CM Ajit Jogi there is a triangular contest in Chhattisgarh. In September, BSP supremo Mayawati declared that she would be contesting the upcoming Chhattisgarh state assembly elections, in coalition with Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC-J). BSP supremo also made it very clear that if the government of the BSP- JCC comes to power, then Ajit Jogi will be the Chief Minister candidate. In Chhattisgarh, the BSP will contest on 35 seats and JCC will fight on remaining 55 seats.
The pre-poll alliance between the BSP-JCC is seen as a major setback to the dreams of the Grand Old Party, which had been trying to throw BJP out of power, the party which has been ruling the state from the past 15 years. In fact, former Congress leader and now the CM candidate of BSP-JCC alliance- Ajit Jogi is trying to turn the assembly elections into a triangular contest and any such contest is most likely to benefit the BJP, as it will cut the votes of the Congress. In Chhattisgarh, a shift of even 1% votes can change the equations drastically. In the last state assembly elections, both parties- Congress and BJP had a vote difference of just below 1 percent.
The state has nearly 50% Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes population among whom Ajit Jogi enjoys significant influence. Tribal population of the state sees Ajit Jogi as an intellectual and an empowered person from the tribal community who “made it big”. He has authored two books, “The Role of District Collector”, and “Administration of Peripheral Areas.”. In the last assembly elections, the Congress won over the tribals in South Chhattisgarh, even as it failed to perform well in urban areas. In Bastar, the Congress won eight out of total 12 assembly constituencies. However, this time their leading tribal face- Ajit Jogi is not with them, so the party is most likely to register a steep decline among Tribal voters of the state. He holds significant influence among the tribal belt. He also enjoys good following among Dalits, Muslims and Christians; and the exit of such stalwart leader would definitely ruin the electoral arithmetic for Congress.
To make the case worse for the Congress, the party failed to stitch up an alliance with Mayawati. Mayawati’s BSP got 4.27% vote share in the last state assembly elections. The veteran journalist Ramesh Nayyar told PTI, “The Congress has suffered a major setback with the move as it was attempting to take the BSP to its side for the upcoming election, in view of the latter’s hold among Scheduled Caste population, particularly the Satnami community, in districts like Janjgir-Champa, Raigarh and Bilaspur.” The BSP has considerable presence on around 11 seats.
Just like JD (S) in Karnataka, Ajit Jogi also has a small but a loyal voter base in Chhattisgarh. Ajit Jogi would be hoping for a fractured mandate in which the BSP- JCC alliance could play the role of Kingmaker. In case of a fractured mandate and taking advantage of Congress’ infighting, Ajit Jogi could push for CM post with the help of a desperate Congress.
The Grand Old Party by forming a post-poll alliance with rival JD (S) in Karnataka has set a precedence that it can do anything to keep BJP out of power. The results of the Karnataka assembly elections came out in mid-May in which the Bharatiya Janata Party had emerged as the single largest party. In a bid to stop the BJP from forming government in Karnataka, Congress had offered unconditional support to Janata Dal (Secular). The animosity between JDS chief H.D. Devegowda and Congress was immediately forgotten after the Karnataka verdict. Congress offered the Chief Minister seat to JDS, even when they had twice the number of seats than JDS, highlighting their desperation to keep the BJP out of power. At present, the only objective of the Congress is to keep the BJP out of power. The Congress party contest elections not to win them, but to defeat the BJP, even if that means propping up regional players and playing second fiddle to them.
In case of fractured mandate in Karnataka, Ajit Jogi would be hoping that the Congress party might compromise with its ideology and may swallow its pride again, just like it did in Karnataka. How realistic Jogi’s calculations are, remains to be seen but it does show his ambition and his ability to recognize the desperation of Congress.
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