Raman Singh and son pay price for Chhattisgarh rout?

Fearing anti-incumbency, the BJP has already denied tickets to all 10 of its sitting MPs, including former chief minister's son.

New Delhi: Three-time Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, a once-powerful BJP leader, is paying the price for losing the state during last year’s Assembly polls. His son, Abhishek, a sitting member of Parliament from Rajnandgaon, was also denied a ticket as the party decided against fielding him due to the simmering discontent among the state population against his rule.

Sources stated that the sidelining of the once-tallest leader of the mineral-rich state has been complete this Lok Sabha poll season as the BJP has also not been using him as extensively as it did during election campaigning.

Moreover, the recent selection of candidates for the Lok Sabha contest was clearly directed by the central leadership led by party chief Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with the former chief minister seemingly been cut to size in the distribution of tickets process as well. Fearing anti-incumbency, the BJP has already denied tickets to all 10 of its sitting MPs, including former chief minister’s son.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had secured 10 seats with the Congress bagging just one. However, just four months ago, political equations changed drastically as Dr Singh’s 15-year government was booted out and the Congress stormed to victory with 68 seats in the 90-member state Assembly.

Sources said the party feels that by maintaining a “safe distance” from the earlier government of Dr Singh and banking on the nationalistic appeal and image of Mr Modi would be able to salvage its pride in the Lok Sabha polls. It is learnt that by working on this strategy, the BJP hopes to make a drastic comeback and retain at least half of the seats that it had won during the 2014 general elections.

However, the BJP faces an uphill task as its chief adversary, the Congress, has seemingly regained its self-confidence under the leadership of chief minister Bhupesh Baghel and is giving a tough time to the once powerful saffron brigade in the state.

In Chhattisgarh, the 2019 Lok Sabha polls are being held in three phases — the first on April 11 saw polling in the Naxal-infested constituency of Bastar, the second on April 18 will witness voting in three constituencies while the remaining seven will vote in
the third phase on April 23.

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