Raipur, Nov 18 (IANS) Chhattisgarh's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are locked in a neck and neck fight for the second phase of elections for 51 seats Thursday.
Voting for 39 of the state's 90 seats was held Nov 14. This is Chhattisgarh's second assembly election after it was born in November 2000 after splitting from Madhya Pradesh.
In November 2003, the Ajit Jogi-led Congress government suffered a defeat and the BJP formed its first government in the mineral-rich state. In the outgoing assembly the BJP has 52 members, the Congress 34 and the National Congress Party (NCP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have one member each. Two seats are vacant.
The Congress is contesting the 2008 assembly polls in alliance with the NCP despite opposition from its key campaigner, former chief minister Ajit Jogi.
Election officials said a total of 687 people, including 58 women, are in the fray for Thursday's polls. About 8.8 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in 10,314 polling stations.
The BJP and BSP are contesting all 51 seats while Congress has candidates on 48 seats. Three have been left for NCP.
Thursday will decide the electoral fortunes of eight ministers as well as BJP state president Vishnudeo Sai (Pathalgaon), Congress state president Dhanendra Sahu (Abhanpur), Ajit Jogi (Marwahi) and his wife Renu (Kota).
'There is a strong under current against the government and we cashed in heavily in the first phase. The Congress has to win a majority of the seats in the second phase to stage a comeback,' Satyanarayan Sharma, the state Congress working president, told IANS.
But Chief Minister Raman Singh claimed: 'People are desperate to retain us in power. Like in the first phase, we will the seats in the second round too.'
Political analysts say the Congress and BJP are locked in a neck and neck fight. Even swing of one percent in favour or against one of them can make a big difference for the final seat tally.
The seats going to the polls Thursday Thursday are 13 constituencies of Raipur district, nine of Bilaspur district, eight of Surguja district, six of Janjgir-Champa district, five of Raigarh district, four of Korba and three each from Jashpur and Koria districts.
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