Soon after Dr Saroj Pandey left with fanfare from her hometown on Monday, to file nomination papers as the BJP candidate for the biennial election on the lone Rajyasabha seat from the state, Congress decided to put off a walk over for her and pitted a former MLA, Lekhram Sahu, against her for the March 23 contest. The 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly has 49 BJP members, 39 Congress members, one BSP and an independent, and it is most unlikely that the BJP National General Secretary Dr Saroj could be defeated; all the same, the Congress is out to challenge. But, what truly is the real notion behind contesting the seat? Political pundits believe Congress, with an eye for the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, in fact, is all out to cash in on the gift wrapped opportunity that the BJP has endowed by considering Dr Saroj Pandey over state BJP Chief Dharamlal Kaushik. Congress is all out to use the same old slogan protesting choice of a “Bahari” over “Chhattisgarhi” and upper caste over lower caste.
The seat for which contest is scheduled on March 23 is currently occupied by Bhushanlal Jangde, a member of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe community that constitutes approximately 32-34% of the voters and not considering any one from this community has to some extent given rise to resentment. Furthermore, the selection of Saroj Pandey over Dharamlal Kaushik has fairly disappointed the OBC Community as well which constitutes another 50% (approximately) of the total vote share.
Considering it to be a god sent opportunity, state Congress Chief Bhupesh Baghel and leader opposition TS Singhdeo swung into action and after a series of interactions and considering the political equations, AICC Chief Rahul Gandhi was quick to declare the name of former MLA from Kurud and president of Dhamtari District Congress as the candidate. Sahu community holds importance as it constitutes 22-24% of the total figure. This SC/OBC votes are considered to be pro BJP and constitutes the solid base of 56-57%, on which the party sailed through to victory in elections over the years. The Congress is looking to infringe into this vote bank by giving the message that the BJP shouts loud on giving opportunities to lower caste and promoting leaders from lower class- poor and farmers, but when it comes to implementing, it is the Congress that stands out in providing rightful opportunity. Therefore, the lone seat in Chhattisgarh is now up for a contest, first time since the state came into being in 2000.