RAIPUR: Amit Shah is in Chhattisgarh to do the Amit Shah thing in the state which is headed for an Assembly election next year and further on for the Lok Sabha election in 2019.
Having put the BJP in overdrive to win over hitherto unconquered vote banks, his focus here is to win over Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Schedules Castes (SC), both sections that are not traditionally BJP voters.
The national president of the saffron party is scheduled to hold 22 meetings during his three-day visit.
Sources say the party’s intelligence from the state’s interior ahead of this visit is not too good. Though the BJP under the leadership of Raman Singh scored a hat-trick in the 2013 Assembly polls, ground reports gathered by the party last year reportedly hinted at a loss of support in constituencies with a predominantly SC and ST population.
So Amit Shah’s strategy here is similar to what the party tried out in Uttar Pradesh: suck up to less privileged sections by extolling their cultural heroes and icons.
Shah's schedule this time includes a trip to Giroudpuri Dham, a pilgrimage centre and the birth place of Ghasidasd, the spiritual guru of the the Satnami community. He will also go to Sonakhan, where Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh led a tribal revolt against the British. Both Giroudpuri Dham and Sonakhan are in Baloda bazar district, about 125 km from Raipur.
Political analyst Parivesh Mishra said this is a bid to voters among these ethnic groups. “Satnam panth is numerically the strongest SC group in the state accounting for about one-sixth of the state’s population. So votes from this community are significant for any political party,” he said.
Tribals voters comprise nearly 32 per cent of the vote in Chhattisgarh, a state with 90 Assembly seats. Ten Assembly constituencies reserved for the SCs. There are 29 tribal seats.
Shah’s visit to Chhattisgarh is a part of his 110-day tour of different states to prep the BJP for the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
During the Amit Shah visit, the Congress party is planning to hold big demonstrations to highlight corruption in the Raman Singh government. Police forces have been deployed across Raipur, especially in and around the state BJP office and the chief minister’s House.