Raipur: The year 2014 brought a big change in Indian politics as the BJP came to power on its own at the Centre, and after that the party expanded rapidly in the states. It also ran ‘Operation Kamal’ at many places, but in Chhattisgarh, the BJP was defeated in 2018 and now Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has slowly started to turn this state into an impregnable fortress of the Congress.
After the formation of Chhattisgarh, the Congress was in power but in 2003 the BJP won by a thumping victory in the assembly elections. It remained in power for one and a half decades, but in the 2018 assembly elections the Congress trounced the saffron party and came to power.
Three and a half years have passed since the Bhupesh Baghel-led Congress government assumed office. During these years, there were many attempts to destabilise the government from within and outside the Congress, but none were successful. At the same time, the Congress has shown its strength by winning elections in this period.
Many times in Chhattisgarh, it seems as if Bhupesh Baghel is the Congress. The reason for this is because he had the command of the organisation in his hands and during this period he strengthened the party at the booth level, then after coming to power, he implemented many schemes for the villagers and the poor. The Congress’ big strength in this state is the population of 32 per cent Scheduled Tribes and 12 per cent Scheduled Castes, it has been the vote bank of the Congress which is still intact. The Congress lost two assembly elections with a margin of just one per cent vote in Chhattisgarh.
Political experts believe that the defectors in this state have never benefited, but have only suffered by leaving the Congress party. This is because strong leaders like Ajit Jogi and Vidya Charan Shukla are examples of this. Congress leaders also know that the party has its own vote bank, which is why Congress people avoid defection. When Jogi formed a separate party, his close associates stayed with the Congress.
Rajesh Tiwari, secretary of the All India Congress Committee, believes that Bhupesh Baghel is one of those leaders who not only know but also feel the problems of the villages, the administrative staff also does not make any plan keeping him in the dark. Overall, while Baghel is an organisationally strong politician on the one hand, he has a strong administrative hold on the other.
According to the people associated with the BJP, the strength of the third party is more important for the BJP in the state, if this happens, the Congress may have to suffer and the BJP can easily come to power by keeping its vote percentage around 40. The weaker the role of the third party in this state, the more difficult will be the path of the BJP in the assembly.
If we look at the situation in the state, the condition of the BJP has become similar to that of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh. That doesn’t mean all is well within the Congress, many times there were attempts to make changes from within the party, but things did not work out. Baghel’s style of working is such that he does not hesitate to do whatever he decides to do, he does not hesitate to speak in front of the party high command on occasion. Not only this, Baghel has established himself at the national level as he is being seen fighting for the Congress at every level. Even during the protest in Delhi, Baghel was seen at the forefront of those who stood with Rahul Gandhi.
Political analyst Rudra Awasthi believes that Bhupesh Baghel has started a new type of politics in the state, he is engaged in strengthening the rural economy on the one hand, which is providing employment to the people of the village, and on the other hand he has tried to save the image of Chhattisgarh. At the same time, politically, he never openly gave importance to his opponents within and outside the party, and did not leave any opportunity for others to reduce his influence. This is the reason why the BJP has also become very weak in the state.
After the formation of the Congress government under the leadership of Baghel, there have been some big income-tax raids which have reached close to the associates of Baghel, but till now no big scam has surfaced in the state, that can put the government in a spot.