Who Will Be Chief Minister If Congress Wins Chhattisgarh? TS Singh Deo Says…

Mr Deo also said that the Congress will win in Madhya Pradesh.

New Delhi:

With almost every exit poll giving the Congress an edge in Chhattisgarh, the state’s Deputy Chief Minister, TS Singh Deo, said while the numbers have come as a relief, he believes the party will win 60 of the state’s 90 seats.

In an exclusive conversation with NDTV on Thursday, Mr Deo was asked about the possibility of him becoming chief minister if the numbers come down significantly from the 68 the party had won last time. He said all the leaders of the party sat together and decided not to leave any room for speculation. 

The senior leader, who had a feud with Bhupesh Baghel over the chief minister’s post, also candidly spoke about the problems that the party had faced because of it. 

“There will be a one-line resolution to the high command and we will be together behind whoever they decide to give the responsibility as chief minister. We will not fall into this trap of speculation and groupism. We suffered on this count in the last five years… this two-and-a-half, two-and-a-half turned out to be a big burden. It was very difficult to deal with the situation and led to many situations which were unpalatable. We don’t want a repeat of that,” he said. 

Mr Deo was referring to a claim that the Congress high command had agreed to a rotational chief ministership when the party had won in 2018. After he was appointed the deputy chief minister in June, however, the leader had said he had never spoken of a rotational formula and that it was a creation of the media. 

Corruption Allegations

On allegations of corruption highlighted by the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi –  especially related to the Mahadev App case – and whether they may have contributed to exit polls showing that the BJP is likely to get at least 30 seats as opposed to the 15 it won in 2018, Mr Deo said the opposition party’s tally in the last elections was “an unusual number”.

“That is not the true picture of the BJP in Chhattisgarh, but they somehow managed to get just 15 seats. That was the way the numbers played out eventually. This time, I was expecting the BJP to be around 35 (seats) because that is the vote share that we have had over the years,” he said.

“Whether it is the Lok Sabha or state elections, both parties enjoy a minimum vote share of 30-32% and it is the 10% floating vote share that gives the majority to either party in any election. That will be the deciding factor, where this vote goes. We will wait for that,” the deputy chief minister said.

Census

Asked about the Caste Census being pushed for by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and most members of the INDIA alliance, the deputy chief minister said Chhattisgarh has not been affected much by caste or religious politics. 

“For us, the OBC census is a medium through which we can frame our policies. If we don’t know what the real demographic is in society, how do you target developmental projects? So, that is the basic commitment that the Congress party has undertaken…. It was done in 1931 and then we went away from that for various reasons. It was done again in 2012, but those figures were not released. Why should we not have those figures,” he asked.

Mr Deo also said that, based on the feedback he has got, the Congress should win 130 of 230 seats in Madhya Pradesh and form a government there.

On exit polls, Mr Deo pointed out that every agency is putting out a different figure. “I, personally, don’t take it at face value. It is not a common number that comes through various channels, and everybody will say they did it scientifically… We should wait. It gives you a trend, it gives you an idea,” he said.

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