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Congress triumph, naxal attacks dominated in 2018

Congress triumph, naxal attacks dominated in 2018
Highlights

In Chhattisgarh, 2018 undoubtedly was the year of the Congress, which ended threetime chief minister Raman Singhs reign with a decisive mandate

Raipur: In Chhattisgarh, 2018 undoubtedly was the year of the Congress, which ended three-time chief minister Raman Singh's reign with a decisive mandate.

The triumph of the Congress in the hard-fought assembly poll battle became the year's big news in the state, which also saw three deadly naxals attacks in Bastar division just ahead of elections.

The Patthalgadi movement of tribal’s attracted national attention in 2018.

Congress wrested power from the BJP in a decisive mandate, after a hectic poll campaign by party president Rahul Gandhi. After facing political exile for 15 years in the state, Congress got its highest seat tally ever, 68 in the 90-member Assembly.

The BJP bagged 15 seats. Poll promises of loan waiver and Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 2,500 per quintal for paddy to farmers seems to have done the trick for the Congress in the state where BJP faced a strong anti-incumbency factor.

Five-time MLA Bhupesh Baghel, who led the fight against the BJP government in last five years as the state Congress chief, became the new chief minister in December.

Hours after taking charge, he announced waiver of short-term agricultural loans of farmers and raising the MSP for paddy to Rs 2,500 per quintal, fulfilling poll promises.

This time, the coalition between Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and former chief minister Ajit Jogi's Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) made the poll battle interesting.While Jogis party won five seats, its ally BSP finished with two.

In September, Baghel was named as an accused in the charge sheet filed by the CBI in connection with 2017 sex CD scandal allegedly featuring a minister of the previous BJP government.

Baghel was the target of BJP chief Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, then chief minister Raman Singh and other BJP leaders during the election campaign over the CD row.

In October 2017, a 'porn video' allegedly involving then Public Works Department minister Rajesh Munat surfaced after the arrest of a senior journalist Vinod Verma, a close confidant of Baghel, by Raipur police.

In April 2018, the state was in the news with controversial Patthalgadi movement launched by tribal’s in northern part of the state, particularly in Jashpur district.

Tribal’s put up plaques outside the village declaring the gram sabha as the only 'sovereign authority' under provisions of The Panchayats (Extension of Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996.

They also added messages saying laws enacted by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are not applicable in the scheduled areas, where gram sabha is supreme. Eight persons, including a former IAS officer, were arrested in connection with the movement.

There were three major naxal attacks ahead of the first phase of polls held on November 12, in which 13 people, including eight security personnel, and a cameraman of national broadcaster Doordarshan, were killed.

Despite naxals' call to boycott polls, the first phase of elections in 18 constituencies of eight Maoist-hit districts recorded a voter turnout of 76.28 per cent.

The overall voter turnout in the two-phase poll was 76.60 per cent. According to police, naxal influence declined in the state this year compared to 2017.

So far this year, over 120 naxals were killed in separate encounters with security forces in the state. The figure was 77 in 2017, a police official said.

In August, police killed 15 naxals in an encounter in Sukma district. Altogether 52 security personnel were killed in naxal attacks so far in 2018. The number was 61 in 2017.

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