Congress eyes win in six seats

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Congress eyes win in six seats

Monday, 01 April 2024 | PTI | RaipurRaipur

Six out of the 11 Lok Sabha seats in Chhattisgarh have been the Bharatiya Janata Party’s bastions where it never lost the elections since the state’s formation in 2000.

While the Congress has expressed confidence of breaching the saffron citadels this time, the BJP is hopeful of retaining them and also pocketing the other Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Of these six seats, Kanker, Surguja and Raigarh are reserved for the Scheduled Tribes, Janjgir-Champa for the Scheduled Castes, while Raipur and Bilaspur are for the general category candidates.

In Rajnandagon Lok Sabha seat, the BJP never tasted defeat since 2000 but in a 2007 bypoll, the Congress emerged victorious. This time, the Congress has fielded former chief minister Bhupesh Baghel from Rajnandgaon.

After Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh, the BJP fared well in both the assembly and Lok Sabha elections in the state.

The saffron party ruled the state uninterrupted for 15 years from 2003 to 2018 and came to power for the fourth term in the 2023 assembly polls.

The BJP won 10 Lok Sabha seats in 2004, 2009, and 2014. Despite a severe loss in the 2018 assembly elections, the BJP won nine seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Both the parties have declared their candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in the state, to be held in three phases on April 19, April 26 and May 7.

The Congress has pinned hopes on a sitting MLA, two former legislators including a minister, two fresh faces and an experienced leader to breach the BJP’s six strongholds.

In Raipur Lok Sabha seat, the BJP has fielded Brijmohan Agrawal, an eight-term MLA and minister in the Vishnu Deo Sai-led present state government, dropping sitting MP Sunil Soni.

In 2019, Soni defeated Congress’ Pramod Dubey by a margin of 3,48,238 votes.

Ramesh Bais, currently the governor of Maharashtra, won Raipur seat seven times- 1989, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014 - on BJP’s ticket.

The Congress has this time fielded former MLA Vikas Upadhyay from Raipur.

Upadhyay was elected MLA for the first time in 2018 from Raipur City West assembly seat but he lost the 2023 state polls.

In Kanker Lok Sabha seat also, the BJP has denied ticket to sitting MP Mohan Mandavi and fielded former MLA Bhojraj Nag, while the Congress has nominated Biresh Thakur, who represented panchayat bodies in the past.

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