Bhupesh Baghel under pressure to repeat success of Assembly elections
New Delhi, April 18: Three parliamentary seats of Chhattisgarh are voting in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections today. The polling is being conducted amid high security in Kanker, Rajnandgaon and Mahasamund as they are affected by Naxal violence. There are 36 candidates in the fray in these seats, but the main fight is between the ruling Congress and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Congress is upbeat after its victory in assembly elections last year in which it managed to dethrone 15-year-rule of the BJP. The concerned BJP has dropped its 10 sitting MPs from Chhattisgarh in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in a bid to beat anti-incumbency.
It is notable that the Congress leadership has given full freedom to its chief ministers to win as many seats as possible for the party in the Lok Sabha elections. Therefore, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel is under pressure to repeat assembly elections' success in the Lok Sabha elections as well. Chhattisgarh, which has 11 Lok Sabha seats, is voting in three phases. The first phase covered the Naxal-hit Bastar (ST) constituency on April 11.
The remaining seven seats will vote in the third and last phase on April 23.
Kanker Lok Sabha seat is reserved for candidates belonging to the scheduled tribes. The constituency has a huge tribal population.
It is a strong bastion of the BJP which has not lost from here since 1998. BJP candidate Vikram Dev Usendi won from here in 2014. Before him, Sohan Potai won the seat for four consecutive terms.
The Congress leader Arvind Netam won this seat in 1971, 1980, 1984, 1989, and 1991. The last time the Congress won from here was in 1996 when Arvind Netam 's wife Chhabila Netam became victorious.
This time the party has fielded Mohan Mandav, who is pitted against Congress' Biresh Thakur and Bahujan Samaj Party's (BSP) Sube Singh Dhurva.
Kanker Lok Sabha constituency comprises eight legislative assembly segments: Sihawa (ST), Sanjari Balod, Dondi Lohara (ST), Gunderdehi, Antagarh (ST), Bhanupratappur (ST), Kanker (ST) and Keshkal (ST).
The importance of the Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha seat for the BJP could be understood by the fact that it denied ticket to sitting MP Abhishek Singh, who is the son of former Chief Minister Raman Singh.
The BJP has fielded Santosh Pandey, general secretary of the party's state unit, in the high-profile Rajnandgaon seat.
Pandey is pitted against Congress candidate Bholaram Sahu, a former MLA. The BSP has fielded Ravita Lakra from here.
The prestige of Raman Singh is at stake here. Therefore, not only Raman Singh but also his son Abhishek has been campaigning hard for the BJP candidate. For, if the BJP candidate loses then father and son duo will be looked upon with suspicion.
This is the seat where senior Congress leader and party treasurer Motilal Vora has influence. He who won the seat in 1999.
The BJP has been continuously winning this seat from 2009.
Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha constituency comprises eight legislative assembly segments: Pandariya, Kawardha, Khairagarh, Dongargarh (SC), Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji and Mohla-Manpur (ST).
This is the seat where former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi has a lot of influence and won it in 2004 general elections. He again contested in 2014 but lost to Chandu Lal Sahu of the BJP. However, his defeat margin was very thin. While Sahu secured 5,03,514 votes, Jogi got 5,02,297.
Jogi, who formed his own party - Janata Congress Chhattisgarh- before the assembly elections last year, is not contesting this time and has extended support to the BSP, which has fielded Dhansing Kosariya.
Chunnilal Sahu is contesting on a BJP ticket and is facing Congress' Dhanendra Sahu.
Mahasamund Lok Sabha constituency comprises eight legislative assembly segments: Saraipali (SC), Basna, Khallari, Mahasamund, Rajim,Bindranawagarh (ST), Kurud and Dhamtari.