However, during the initial stages of the election campaign, the situation seemed otherwise for the BJP. Though the party had trounced the Congress in the state polls four months ago, the difference of votes between the two parties was just 1.7 per cent.
With no major issues ahead of the general elections in the state, it was personalities and not the party that were clashing. The Congress party, however, committed the same mistake it did in the state polls, as the simmering differences among its state leaders started spilling out in open.
Chhattisgarh's 11 Lok Sabha seats will go to the polls on April 16. In the last general elections (2004), the BJP held 9, while the Congress managed 2. "Last time, the Congress was set to win about half the seats and improve its position, but it failed to put up a good election management that finally changed the equation in favour of the BJP," said Virendra Pandey, a political analyst. Though the number of seats of the Congress is likely to increase from its last figure, the party has been unable to encash the situation that was been in its favour, he added.
The dissidence in the Congress camp came out in the open after a section of senior leaders complained to the party high command about the sorry state of affairs in the party. They alleged that most of the Congress legislators have confined themselves to a particular constituency, from where a relative of a party's heavyweight is contesting the election.
In all, there are 178 candidates in the fray. Prominent among them include Ajit Jogi's wife Renu Jogi (Bilaspur), former state Congress president Charandas Mahant (Korba), former deputy leader of opposition Bhupesh Baghel (Raipur), BJP state unit president Vishnudeo Sai, Atal Bihari Vajpayee's niece Karuna Shukla (Korba), former Union ministers Dilip Singh Judeo (Bilaspur), and Ramesh Bais (Raipur).