Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has claimed that his party, the Congress will retain power with a larger majority. Days ahead of the second and last phase of the election — due on November 17 — Mr Baghel told NDTV in an exclusive interview that the party will win more than 75 seats, several more than in 2018.
Asked about possible anti-incumbency, he said, “Why would there be? We have worked for five years, during Covid and after. Be it farmers, labourers, tribals, traders or industrialists, we supported everyone during the pandemic… we have schemes for everyone. There is no one who can claim that they lost anything in five years”.
The Congress swept out the BJP government of Raman Singh in 2018, winning 68 out of the 90 assembly seats in the state. The Congress currently holds 71 seats in the House following bypoll victories.
Mr Baghel, who re-built the party in the state after the 2013 Jhiram Ghati Maoist attack, was credited with the victory. He was picked for the top job by the party’s top leadership above three other contenders.
This time, the Chief Minister appeared confident that the people will give the party another chance in view of its governance of the last five years.
“People trust only the Congress, its guarantee. Neither they buy the guarantees of Raman Singh or of Narendra Modi,” he said, citing several promises made by the Prime Minister.
The Congress, he said, has kept its word at every instance, including the loan waiver for farmers. “Rahul Gandhi had said it would be done in 10 days. We did it within two hours,” he told NDTV.
“We halved the electricity bills, bought tendu leaves at Rs 4000 for each 50 kg bag, gave each family 35 kilos of vegetables… so people trust the Congress guarantee,” he added.
Asked what can he offer the people this time, he said the party has spoken of waiving the pending taxes for farmers, women, women self-help groups and transporters prior to 2018. The government has also offered Rs 500 subsidy on cooking gas.
“Most importantly, from KG to PG – be it a medical college or anything else – there will be no education fees or session charge,” he added.
Mr Baghel will be contesting from his stronghold Patan – from where he won the assembly polls five times. The counting of votes will take place on December 3.