Reading the elections 2018 verdict: Key takeaways from Chhattisgarhhttps://indianexpress.com/article/explained/reading-the-verdict-chhattisgarh-key-takeaways-5489156/

Reading the elections 2018 verdict: Key takeaways from Chhattisgarh

The immediate challenge that awaits the new Congress government in Chhattisgarh is to pay paddy farmers a minimum support price of Rs 2,500 per quintal.

Reading the elections 2018 verdict: Key takeaways from Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh Election Results 2018: Chhattisgarh Congress state unit chief Bhupesh Baghel with general secretary in-charge PL Punia. (Express Photo)

For Congress: New start powered by populism, OBC push

Baggage-free: The Congress took the difficult call to let former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi go in 2016. The landslide on Tuesday showed some burdensome electoral baggage had been released.

OBC thrust: The Congress projected clever social combinations and cohesion with the choice of two OBCs — Bhupesh Baghel and Tamradhwaj Sahu — as its prominent faces early in the campaign. As the largest voting segment, OBCs are one of the BJP’s core electoral bases.

Populism pays: Populism has its merits, the party has learned. The Congress promise of loan waivers and bonuses on paddy procurements has helped it garner the farmer vote.

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For BJP: Vote split can’t beat the three-term fatigue

Promises broke: The BJP had promised hefty bonuses on paddy procurements in its 2013 election manifesto. It failed to deliver on the promise during the government’s term, and gave credence to opposition allegations.

Expectations belied: There are limits to relying upon rebellion/factionalism in the opposition camp for a victory. The BJP hoped that Ajit Jogi’s Chhattisgarh Janata Congress (Jogi) and Mayawati’s BSP alliance would eat into Congress votes and deliver the state.

Anti-incumbency: A three-term incumbency is a mammoth challenge. Everywhere in Chhattisgarh, the refrain among voters was “thakaawat” (fatigue) — much more than any direct anger.

In 2014, the BJP got 49.66 per cent of the vote and 30 seats.

The task ahead | Cost of promises: Rs 3,600 crore tab awaits new govt

The immediate challenge that awaits the new Congress government is to pay paddy farmers a minimum support price of Rs 2,500 per quintal, which is more than the Rs 1,750 rate declared by the central government. And unlike loan waiver, this is a specific promise that would have to be implemented in the current kharif marketing season itself.

Chhattisgarh contributed 47.86 lakh tonnes of paddy to the central pool in the last (2017-18) marketing season, beginning October. Assuming the same level of procurement in this season, the extra Rs 750/quintal payment over and above the Centre’s MSP will cost almost Rs 3,600 crore.

Harish Damodaran