Naxal-hit Bastar region key to Chhattisgarh poll outcome: Report

PTI New Delhi, Delhi, India Oct 14, 2018, 06.18 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

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Of the 12 Assembly seats in Bastar, the Congress had won eight in 2013 and the BJP managed to edge out the opposition in the overall tally. This was possible on the back of the BJP's strong performance in the plains, helped to no small extent by the Narendra Modi factor.

Chhattisgarh's Bastar region, the worst Naxal-hit place in the country, is likely to hold the key to the Assembly poll outcome, with the BJP pulling out all stops to reverse its fortunes here, as the Congress had got the better of it in 2013.

BJP president Amit Shah, during his frequent visits to the state, including to Bastar division headquarters Jagdalpur on Saturday, has asked party workers to ensure that the Congress is routed in the region on the back of the state government's "development works" and fall in Naxal violence.

Of the 12 Assembly seats in Bastar, the Congress had won eight in 2013 and the BJP managed to edge out the opposition in the overall tally. This was possible on the back of the BJP's strong performance in the plains, helped to no small extent by the Narendra Modi factor.

PM Modi, who was then the party's prime ministerial candidate, had campaigned extensively in the Chhattisgarh Assembly polls.

BJP sources noted that in the last Assembly elections, the difference in vote share of their party and that of the Congress was less than one per cent, as they underlined the importance of the tribal-dominated region, which has often given either of the two main parties a decisive mandate.

In 2008, the BJP had emerged victorious in 11 of the 12 seats in Bastar. It had won 50 seats in the 90-member state assembly. The Congress had won 38 and received about 1.7 per cent less vote than the saffron party.

Though the BJP has been in power in Chhattisgarh for the last 15 years, the opposition Congress has been bridging the gap with the ruling party in terms of popular support.

The BJP received 39.26 per cent, 44.33 per cent and 41 per cent votes in 2003, 2008 and 2013 polls respectively. The Congress had got 36.71 per cent, 38.63 per cent and 40.3 per cent votes in those Assembly elections.

Chief Minister Raman Singh has been at the helm since 2003.

Opinion polls held in the state have predicted yet another close fight between the two traditional rivals with some giving edge to the Congress and others to the BJP.

Shah has been visiting the state frequently, holding meetings with party leaders and workers and addressing public meetings.

While Chhattisgarh will go to the polls in two phases on November 12 and 20, the Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram Assembly elections will be held on November 28.

Polling in Rajasthan and Telangana will be held on December 7 and the counting of votes will be held across all the five states on December 11.

With the Lok Sabha polls due to be held barely four months after the results of assembly elections in the five states, their outcome is bound to be a factor in the campaign for the general elections.