The BJP has a reason to focus on the sensitive Bastar region of Chhattisgarh. The Naxal infested zone had given a thumbs-down to the ruling party in the last elections. The Congress had won eight of the 12 seats in the region which holds the key to government formation in 90-member assembly.
The Raman Singh-led government and the Centre have been addressing the Naxal threat with a firm hand. The Naxal incidents have been reduced by half between 2010 and 2017. But this year has been bloody as the Naxal have managed to carry out major strikes. The security forces attribute the rise in such attacks as a retaliation to the operations being carried out against them. Despite the Naxal threat, the local population has been taking part in the election process just like in any other parts of the state or the country.
The BJP would look to repeat it’s 2008 performance when it had won 11 out if 12 seats in the region. The government started air connectivity between Raipur and Jagdalpur. BJP president Amit Shah was also in the region galvanising the party cadre to ensure defeat of the Congress. But this time, Janata Chhattisgarh Congress is also in the contention as it has good hold in the red bastion.
The voting in the state is less than a month away as polling is scheduled in two phases on November 12 and 20 but opinion polls once again suggest that all the parties have equal chance to spread their influence in the region.
Of the 12 seats in the region, 11 are reserved for STs. These are: Bijapur, Dantewada, Konta, Chitrakot, Bastar, Narainpur, Konfagaon, Keshkal, Kanker, Bhanupratappur and Antagaeh. Jagdalpur assembly seat is unreserved.
Congress is facing trouble in its stronghold Dantewada where deceased party leader Mahendra Karma’s son Chhabindra Karma is unhappy for denial of ticket which is being given to his mother Devati Karma who is also an sitting MLA. Mahendra Katma was leader of opposition and associated with formation of anti Naxal Salwa Judam. He was killed in naxal attack in 2013.