In a development that is likely to bring cheers to the Congress camp, the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (Jogi) — or JCCJ — on Tuesday announced that it would not contest any Lok Sabha seat in the state and instead allow the BSP to field candidates in all 11 constituencies.
The JCCJ-BSP combine had contested the Assembly polls in coalition, winning five and two seats, respectively, and securing more than 11 per cent votes between them.
The JCCJ confirmed that while BSP has already announced candidates for eight seats, it will not contest on the three remaining constituencies. The BSP has so far maintained a studied silence.
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Among seats left to be declared are Korba, Bilaspur and Mahasamund, where JCCJ was likely to have had very strong candidates had it chosen to contest — chief among them being former Chhattisgarh CM and party chief Ajit Jogi, a former Congressman who had earlier indicated that he would contest from Korba.
Most of JCCJ’s 7.6 per cent votes in last year’s state polls had come from these areas in the plains, which have a high Scheduled Castes population.
In a political resolution announced after a core committee meeting, the JCCJ stated, “The parliamentary board and the core committee have decided that because they are a national party, BSP should fight on all 11 seats, and the two parties should fight together to get the most support. It is clear to us that whatever end we have to go to, we will put our entire strength on defeating BJP. We are a regional party, and therefore our role in national politics is to defeat BJP.”
The resolution added that in future, JCCJ will contest all local, municipal and panchayat elections on the party symbol on behalf of the alliance.
JCCJ leaders told The Indian Express that while they have declared support for BSP, it expects most of its 8 per cent votes to return to the Congress. “These were largely Congress voters who had come to us in the name of Ajit Jogi. Now they are likely to go back to the Congress, and in that case we may not dissuade them. Some may shift to the BJP. In any case, barring Janjgir, BSP does not look like it has a winning candidate, and that is a factor.”