The Congress may be inching towards a landslide win in Chhattisgarh, but its choice to replace the BJP's Raman Singh as chief minister remains anybody's guess.
There are a few contenders for the top position, the foremost among them being Chhattisgarh Congress president Bhupesh Baghel. The 57-year-old politician, who credits his party's good showing to its fight against the "anti-poor" policies of the Raman Singh government, claims he is ready to fulfil any responsibility that the Congress high command hands him.
A seasoned legislator, Mr Baghel served in the Digvijaya Singh cabinet when Chhattisgarh was still a part of Madhya Pradesh and later in the Ajit Jogi government. He was appointed as the party's state unit chief in 2014.
The other contenders for the post are TS Singh Deo, leader of the opposition in the previous assembly, and Tamradhwaj Sahu, the lone Congress parliamentarian from the state. Mr Deo had earlier told NDTV that the Congress leadership would decide on the chief ministerial candidate after speaking to the elected legislators.
Nevertheless, the Chhattisgarh Congress is content with celebrating an unexpectedly stunning election victory for now. Surrounded by jubilant workers, Mr Baghel told NDTV that the "wrong policies of the BJP government" had sealed its fate in the state. He said Congress workers received a lot of support from the masses in their campaign against Raman Singh, a formidable leader and three-time chief minister, because they were fighting for a "real cause".
"This is a victory of the people. We fought the polls against the BJP's anti-poor agenda," he said. "Be it issues related to issuance of ration cards or faulty procurement of foodgrain, we have been taking up the issues of the poor, the underprivileged and the Adivasis."
The Congress was leading in 68 seats in Chhattisgarh's 90-member assembly at 2 am on Tuesday, leaving the ruling party with a paltry 15. By comparison, the BJP had won 49 seats in the 2013 elections to the Congress' 39.
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