Angry Congress workers ransacked a party office in Chhattisgarh’s capital after the party replaced its Lok Sabha candidate in Raipur, Satyanarayan Sharma, with Chhaya Verma.
Supporters of the six-time Congress MLA accused Congress state president Bhupesh Baghel of denying the ticket to Sharma in favour of Verma, who belonged to his Kurmi caste.
Verma, a former chairman of the Raipur Zilla Panchayat, was the party nominee from Raipur in the initial list released on March 8 but was replaced with Sharma on March 13.
“Everyone knows that Sharmaji is the only Congress face in Raipur who can take on BJP candidate Ramesh Bais. No one has heard the name of Chhaya Verma. Baghel gave the ticket to Chhaya because of the caste factor. And to further humiliate Sharmaji, he said Satyanarayan Sharma himself had refused to contest the elections,” Shankar Sharma, a party functionary, said.
“The irate workers stormed the party office, broke chairs and threw eggs before the police were called,” Kotwali City Superintendent of Police Anshuman Singh Sisodia said.
“However, the situation is under control and the crowd has been dispersed from the Congress Bhawan,” Sisodia said.
Another party worker, Sharad Gupta, who tried to immolate himself over the ticket denial in front of the party office, was overpowered by other Congress leaders.
Sharma, who was also a minister in Digvijay Singh’s Cabinet in Madhya Pradesh, said he had no objection to the party decision to field Verma.
“I have asked my supporters to campaign for Verma. She is the party candidate now. However, I’ll speak to the party high command over Baghel’s false statement that I myself declined to contest the election,” he said.
BJP MLA and spokesman Shivratan Sharma said his party was not afraid of any candidate, be it Sharma or Verma, and that the BJP would win the Raipur seat.