Jogi's political fate, Raman's image at stake
The three Lok Sabha constituencies in Chhattisgarh which go to polls Thursday are significant as the outcome will have a bearing on the future of veteran Congress leader Ajit Jogi and the stature of Chief Minister Raman Singh.
Chhattisgarh elects 11 members to the Lok Sabha. Balloting for the Bastar seat was held April 10.
Mahasamund, Rajnandgaon and Kanker constituencies vote Thursday while the remaining seven will see polling April 24.
"The Congress is heading for a total rout in 2014 polls in Chhattisgarh. I don't see any chance for Congress to even maintain its tally of 2009 polls," Raman Singh told IANS.
The Congress won only from Korba in the last Lok Sabha polls.
Raman Singh added: "People want to teach a lesson to the Congress as its decade-long gross misrule at the centre has ruined the economy and created all sorts of hardships to the common people."
Jogi, who is battling against all odds in Mahasamund, claimed the Congress is bound to better its Lok Sabha tally.
"We are going to produce stunning results by winning a majority of the seats, courtesy the 10-year-long misgovernance of Raman Singh," Jogi said.
Political analysts say the Congress stands a better chance as compared to 2009 and it could win up to four seats, provided the warring factions call a truce at least till April 24 when polling concludes in the state.
Jogi, who was Chhattisgarh's first chief minister when it was carved out of Madhya Pradesh, is locked in a direct contest in Mahasamund with outgoing BJP MP Chandulal Sahu, a heavyweight from the OBC community that makes up roughly 50 percent of the state's 2.55 crore population.
Jogi won Mahasamund seat in 2004 by over 1.25 lakh votes, defeating nine-time MP V.C. Shukla, who contested on BJP ticket, on his home turf.
Jogi suffered a near fatal road accident in the 2004 campaign and since then he is bound to a wheelchair.
Raman Singh, who has headed the BJP government since 2003, faces the popularity test in Rajnandgaon seat where his only son, Abhishek Singh, is making his electoral debut.
Abhishek, 32, holds an MBA degree. He is pitted against Congress candidate Kamleshwar Verma.
In Kanker, Raman's former cabinet colleague Vikram Usendi, who suffered a crushing defeat in the November assembly polls, is trying to revive his political career.
The BJP has dumped its four-time winner Sohan Potai this time from Kanker to bet on Usendi.
The Congress has fielded Phulo Devi Netam, who commands significant support in a large chunk of this Scheduled Tribes reserved constituency. - IANS