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Chhattisgarh election | Widows of slain politicians in Dantewada by-election face-off

first_imgThe Dantewada Assembly by-election in Chhattisgarh is headed towards an emotionally charged battle with both the Congress and the BJP fielding widows of regional stalwarts slain by Maoists on separate occasions. The contest, to be held on September 23, became imminent after BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi was killed in a Maoist attack while on the stump in April, two days before the Lok Sabha election in Bastar, where he held ground as the lone BJP MLAs amid 11 Congressmen. Now, riding high on sentiment, his wife, Ojaswi Mandavi, has resolved to “carry forward her husband’s political legacy” and taken on former MLA Devti Karma, widowed after former Leader of the Opposition Mahendra Karma was killed in 2013.With both the parties locked in a see-saw battle for the seat, Mr. Karma won it in 2003, the first contest after the State was carved, while Mr. Mandavi wrested it the next election. In 2013, the seat wound up in the Congress kitty, after an emotionally high-strung battle went in Ms. Karma’s favour, who garnered sympathy votes. Yet in 2018, Mr. Mandavi snatched it back with a margin 2,172 votes. The stakes are high for the BJP, scrambling to gain a toehold in the Maoist-hit region, which went against the wind to pick a Congressman in the Lok Sabha election, when the BJP won nine of the 11 seats in the State. Having faced a drubbing in the Lok Sabha election months after winning 68 of the 90 Assembly seats, the Congress is looking to cement the party’s grip over the region. “The Congress is dependant on leaders from Bastar region like Minister Kawasi Lakhma and State Congress chief Mohan Markam,” said State Congress spokesperson Shailesh Nitin Trivedi. “The BJP is trying to make an emotional appeal to voters. But, let’s be clear, while Mr. Karma was killed despite requests for adequate security cover for him, Mr. Mandavi broke the security protocol and was killed.” Claim rubbishedState BJP spokesperson Sanjay Shrivastava meanwhile rubbished the Congress claim that several BJP workers had switched over. “They have already lost the election and are trying hard to conjure up a negative perception against us.”last_img

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