Congress stunned in Chhattisgarh, but gets new hero

May 17th, 2009 - 2:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Raipur, May 17 (IANS) The Congress, which returned to power in style in New Delhi, suffered a shocking defeat in Chhattisgarh at the hands of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But the party has nevertheless got a new hero in Charandas Mahant, who bagged the lone Korba seat in the state.
Mahant, the party’s state working president, won the newly-created constituency by defeating BJP’s Karuna Shukla, niece of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He is now seen as the Congress’ future hope in the state as the party’s central leadership is said to be looking for an alternative to Ajit Jogi, Chhattisgarh’s first chief minister, who has let the party down in the 2003 and in the 2008 assembly polls.

The 55-year-old has been seen as Jogi’s rival and party sources say he had been sidelined so far.

“Mahant is a seasoned politician. Ever since he was first elected to the state assembly of undivided Madhya Pradesh in 1980, he always worked for the party’s interests and never raised his voice against the party on several occasions when he was sidelined in the party by his rivals,” a senior party leader told IANS Sunday on condition of anonymity.

“Even late last year when Jogi managed to persuade the central leadership to demote Mahant to state working president from a full-fledged president, Mahant accepted the decision gracefully though several party leaders predicted he would not tolerate the humiliation and will quit party,” the leader added.

Political analysts say Mahant is now set to rise in state politics as he could be the one person the party is looking for to lift the sagging morale of party workers after two consecutive assembly poll losses and the setback in the Lok Sabha elections.

The ruling BJP won 10 out of the state’s 11 Lok Sabha seats.

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