iconimg Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ejaz Kaiser, Hindustan Times
Raipur, February 16, 2014
The BJP is using Twenty20 cricket to woo youngsters in tribal belts of Chhattisgarh and regain lost ground ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Titled 'Modi Cup', a T20 cricket tournament is being organised by the BJP's youth wing BJYM. "The Modi Cup is now being held in every tribal-dominated district of Bastar and Sarguja divisions. The BJYM will award trophies to the winners," said BJYM state president Anurag Singhdeo.

"The objective is to popularise our leader Narendra Modi and inform the public about his vision."

The matches are held at district headquarters, and venues are decked up with BJP flags and posters displaying Modi and his messages.

The running commentary during the cricket matches also talks about Modi.

"As tribals in remote areas usually do not have access to internet, newspapers or even televisions, these events will help raise awareness about Modi and the BJP," said Singhdeo.

He said athletics events for tribal youngsters were also planned.

In the 2013 assembly elections, several BJP leaders were defeated in tribal areas, where the party had positioned itself remarkably well over the past one decade.

Chief minister Raman Singh has been credited with building the BJP's political base among the tribals of Chhattisgarh.

However, the party lost eight out of 12 tribal-dominated seats of Bastar and won only one of the eight seats in Sarguja in the assembly elections.

With tribals forming nearly 32% of the state's population, political analysts believe tribal votes are significant.

Meanwhile, the Congress dismissed BJP's new move and said Modi would remain a stranger to the tribal population.

"Modi's appeal is restricted to the average urban population, salaried middle-class, and youths to some extent," said Congress spokesperson Ramesh Varlyani.