NEW DELHI: The Congress is hopeful of maintaining its edge in the crucial Bastar region as campaigning for phase I polling in Chhattisgarh ended. While 18 seats will go to polls on November 12, remaining 72 will have voting on Nov 20.
The Congress which had won eight out of 12 assembly seats falling in the Naxal-affected Bastar region in the 2013 polls, hopes to get 10-11 seats this time, riding on the three-term anti-incumbency against the ruling BJP and a general lack of development in the area dominated by Tribals.
"We will do well in Bastar region," said a senior AICC functionary supervising the campaign in Chhattisgarh. Bastar, said the sources, indicates the trend in Chhattisgarh, which is largely a Tribal-state. The ruling BJP had come down from 11/12 seats in the Bastar region in 2008 polls to just 4 in the 2013 polls."
"The BJP government stopped Tribal development programs in Bastar," said a senior Congres leader, adding that the previous UPA's plan of Rs 30 crore for each Tribal district was also shelved by the Raman Singh government in the state.
"There is a heavy exodus from the area. Women suffer due to human trafficking and malnutrition is widespread among children," said the leader. The Mahila Congress lead by national president Sushmita Dev too ran an extensive campaign in the Bastar region to convince the women voters.
Congress managers said the party did well in the recent Panchayat polls in the state and bagged around 70 per cent of the seats.
This should work in the favour of the opposition party, they said. Given the importance of the Naxal-affected area, the Congress had deployed 12 ex-MLAs to supervise each of the 12 assembly seats.
With campaigning coming to an end Saturday evening and no door to door allowed by the poll panel this time, communication the candidates and the booth-level teams would be the focus of the party managers, a strategist told this paper.