Chhattisgarh: The BJP has taken the lead over the Congress as the counting of votes in the Assembly elections is underway. As per TV reports, the BJP has crossed the halfway mark and is leading in 55 seats and the Congress in 32 out of a total of 90 seats. In Patan, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel of Congress was leading over BJP's Vijay Baghel by 164 votes after four rounds of counting of votes. There will be 18 rounds, a poll official said.
Meanwhile, five former ministers who lost the 2018 Chhattisgarh assembly elections and were re-nominated by the BJP for the polls this time were leading in their respective seats, according to the Election Commission data. Bhaiyyalal Rajwade (Baikunthpur), Amar Agrawal (Bilaspur), Rajesh Munat (Raipur City West), Kedar Kashyap (Narayanpur) and Dayaldas Baghel (Nawagarh) were ministers in the previous BJP government in the state.
They lost the 2018 assembly polls but were leading this time against their nearest Congress rivals, as per the latest trends. However, former ministers Prem Prakash Pandey (Bhilai Nagar) and Mahesh Gagda (Bijapur), who were also re-nominated this time by the BJP despite losing the previous election, were trailing.
Counting of votes in elections to the 90-member Chhattisgarh assembly started at 8 am on Sunday, with security personnel maintaining a strict vigil in counting centres in the state's 33 districts, including those affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE), a poll official said. Postal ballots were counted between 8 am and 8.30 am, after which the counting of votes through EVMs began in the presence of officials and political parties' authorised agents, he said. The elections were held in two phases on November 7 and 17. Voter turnout stood at 76.31 percent.
In the 2018 polls, the Congress swept the polls winning 68 seats, leaving the BJP, which had ruled since 2003, a distant second with 15 seats. Earlier, exit polls predicted a close contest between the Congress and the BJP, with the ruling party having a slight edge. Of the 90 assembly seats in the state, 51 are in the general category, 10 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and 29 for Scheduled Tribes.