Chhattisgarh chief ministerial hopefuls lobby for top post

December 6th, 2008 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiRaipur, Dec 6 (IANS) Though the outcome of Chhattisgarh’s assembly elections will be known only on Monday, several Congress leaders, anticipating the party’s victory, have already begun lobbying for the chief minister’s post. Party sources said the top claimants are star campaigner and former chief minister Ajit Jogi, nine-time Member of Parliament Vidhya Charan Shukla, state party president Dhanendra Sahu, working president Charandas Mahant and leader of opposition Mahendra Karma.

All those lobbying for the top job have also assured the Congress central leadership that the party is set to return to power.

They have separately met several central leaders in New Delhi since Thursday to seek their “blessings”.

Jogi has emerged as the strongest contender, say sources. He was virtually the face of the Congress campaign in Chhattisgarh and though wheelchair bound, travelled the length and breadth of the state.

Except for Mahendra Karma, Jogi also canvassed support for the party in the constituencies of the other chief ministerial hopefuls. Shukla and Mahant did not contest the elections.

“There is a mad rush among at least five state leaders to push their claims ahead of Monday’s counting, all are claiming before the party high command that Congress was set to return to power due to his strategy and popularity in the state,” a top party source told IANS.

The source stated that the claimants were using their political network to gain the support of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

Gandhi addressed the maximum seven election rallies in the two-phased polls and his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi addressed one, while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stayed away.

The state went to the polls for its 90 assembly seats in two phases Nov 14 and Nov 20. The Congress contested 87 seats and left three to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

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