The election results for the 90 assembly seats in Chhattisgarh will be announced today with Raman Singh seeking a fourth consecutive term as chief minister. The Congress is aiming to stage a comeback after being out of power for 15 years in the mineral-rich state.
1,079 candidates including CM Raman Singh, his 11 ministers and state presidents of the BJP and the Congress are locked in a battle to clinch power in the central state of the country. Raman Singh is locked in a fight in Rajnandgaon seat against Congress' Karuna Shukla, the niece of former prime minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Polling for 90 seats in the state took place in two phases on 12 November and 20 November 2018. The state had recorded 76.60 per cent voter turnout in the polls.
Exit polls predict a neck-to-neck contest between the Congress and BJP in the election results to be announced today which could break Raman Singh's three time consecutive winning streak. While Republic-C Voter predicted 35-43 seats for the BJP and 40-50 for the Congress, News Nation forecast a close race with 38-42 seats for the BJP and 40-44 for the Congress.
Times Now-CNX predicted 35 seats for Congress while 46 seats were seen being bagged by the BJP. According to an exit poll by India Today- Axis MY India, Congress will win the Chhattisgarh election 2018 with clear majority and oust the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While the Congress is seen winning at least 55 to 65 seats in Chhattisgarh election 2018, the Raman Singh-led BJP may manage to bag 21-31 seats out of 90 seats.
The majority mark in the Assembly is 46.
In case of a hung assembly, the coalition between former CM Ajit Jogi's Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) could emerge as the kingmaker with exit polls predicting between three to eight seats for the party. Ajit Jogi served as the first chief minister for three years since 2000 when the state came into existence.
Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, an Ayurvedic doctor-turned-politician, on Sunday ruled out the possibility of a hung assembly and said BJP would retain power once again and form a government straight for the fourth term.
"The situation of a hung assembly will not arise. BJP will form the government with a majority. I am confident that the BJP will form the government for the fourth time without anyone's support," said Singh.
The Congress too is confident it would unseat the BJP in the state this time. Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and Congress leader T S Singh Deo has said there was no need to "look left or right" for any support and his party will form the government in Chhattisgarh on its own.
"There has been a misrule in the BJP's tenure. Corruption has gone up in all the government departments. Farmers in particular are in a lot of distress. That is the reason why people came out in large numbers to vote against the BJP government," said Singh Deo on December 2.
Congress has termed its election manifesto in the state as 'Jan Ghoshana Patra', which Deo said was the result of feedback from the people living in almost all the districts of the state.
Of the 90 Assembly seats, 51 are for general category while 10 segments are reserved for Scheduled Castes and 29 for Scheduled Tribes. In the last Assembly polls, the BJP had won 49, the Congress 39, while one seat each was bagged by the BSP and an Independent. Tight security arrangements have been made at the counting centres in all 27 districts, particularly the Naxal- affected ones to ensure smooth announcement of election results in the state.
"Counting for all 90 seats would start at 8 am at the 27 district headquarters. All preparations have been completed and a three-layer security has been arranged at each counting centre," an election official told PTI. As many as 5,184 counting personnel and 1,500 micro-observers have been appointed for smooth conduct of the process, he said.
In every counting hall, 14 tables will be arranged in rows of seven tables each, apart from separate tables for the returning officer and for counting of postal ballots, he added.