A screening committee meeting discussed the fact that the margin of defeat for most of the Congress candidates in the 2013 Assembly polls was 1%.

 

For the upcoming Chhattisgarh Assembly elections, the Congress is thinking of betting on candidates who lost in the last Assembly polls held in 2013, sources have said.

“All sitting Congress MLAs may not get tickets to contest the upcoming Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh as the party will decide its candidates on the sole criterion of winnability, but the party is ready to bet on almost all such candidates who lost their seats in the 2013 Assembly elections in the state,” a source close to the party’s screening committee, formed for the distribution of tickets for the Chhattisgarh polls, told The Sunday Guardian.

“The decision to bet on defeated candidates was considered during the screening committee meeting held last week in Raipur. At the meeting, it was discussed that defeated candidates have the ability to turn the anti-incumbency factor in favour of the party in the upcoming Assembly polls, as the margin of defeat for most of the Congress candidates in the 2013 Assembly polls was 1%,” the same source  said.

Shailesh Nitin Trivedi, Chhattisgarh Congress spokesperson, said: “The screening committee is scrutinising the names of the candidates and only winnable candidates will secure the party ticket. However, the final decision on ticket distribution on who will get a ticket and who will not is in the hands of the party’s central leadership.”

“We are confident that this time, the Congress will win a thumping majority in Chhattisgarh because the people on the ground have decided to throw out the Bharatiya Janata Party from the state,” Trivedi said.

In the 2013 Assembly elections, the BJP won 49 of the 90 seats with a vote share of 41.04%, while the Congress bagged 39 seats and secured a vote share of 40.29%. One seat each was won by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and by an independent candidate.

According to political observers, Congress is not in a position to take any risks as the party is under pressure to win the Assembly elections scheduled to be held in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan this year. Manindra Nath Thakur, a political analyst from Jawaharlal Nehru University told The Sunday Guardian: “The upcoming Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are going to be crucial for the Congress as it is under pressure to prove that it has the ability to win an election. Victory in the Assembly elections will, of course, boost confidence among the party workers ahead of the 2019 general elections.” However, the announcement of an alliance between the Ajit Jogi-led Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC) and Mayawati’s BSP for the Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh has put the Congress in a fix.

Following the development, the BJP seems happier in the state.

Before the announcement, the Congress was trying to build an alliance with the BSP in Chhattisgarh as well as in Madhya Pradesh, but it failed to convince the Dalit leader. Responding on the formation of alliance, Thakur said: “The Congress’ failure to build an alliance with BSP in Chhattisgarh has sent a wrong signal and is likely to alter the party’s strategy for the 2019 general elections.”

The alliance partners have already set the rules of the game. While the BSP will contest on 35 seats, the JCC will contest on rest of the Assembly constituencies. Mayawati has also announced that if the coalition comes to power, Jogi will become the Chief Minister.

 

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