Chhattisgarh's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has kept the Maoist issue alive for political advantage, says state Congress president Nand Kumar Patel, claiming that the number of insurgency affected districts has doubled under the ruling party.
"The Chhattisgarh government has adopted the 'divide and rule policy' in the Maoist, tribal dominated areas to manage votes," Patel said in an interview.
"It has kept the Maoist issue alive to get political advantage out of the problem," he added.
According to him, the Raman Singh government has pitted tribals against tribals to "manage their votes".
But this, he said, "has led to 10 times more killings of people in the state during the BJP regime compared to Congress rule", Patel alleged. The BJP has ruled Chhattisgarh since December 2003.
"The number of Maoist-affected districts in the BJP regime has risen to 10. This was just five during Congress rule," he added.
Patel was the home minister in the Ajit Jogi-led Congress government in Chhattisgarh that was voted out in 2003.
He was also home minister in the Digvijay Singh-led Congress government in undivided Madhya Pradesh. Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000.
The Congress president questioned the BJP government's intent to solve the Maoist problem in the state. "Why this government is not holding talks with the tribals of Bastar?
"The tribal people will offer a quick solution to the insurgency problem if talks are held with them and their suggestions sought," Patel said.
"But this government is not doing it because it wants to get political advantage," he added.
The 58-year-old politician belongs to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) that make up about 50 percent of the state's 2.55 crore population.
He has been in politics since 1979 and won the Kharasia assembly seat in Raigarh district in 2008 -- for the fifth time in a row.
Patel strongly denied that the Congress was facing factionalism and rivalry in Chhattisgarh.
He said: "All party leaders in Chhattisgarh are united against the BJP. We are working on a strategy to 'Root Out BJP in 2013'.
The state goes to the polls in late 2013.
Currently, in the 90-member assembly, the Congress has 39 members and the BJP 49. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has two members.
Asked how he would keep the morale of party workers high amid losses by the Congress in assembly bypolls and parliamentary polls from Bastar last month, Patel said: "I will expose Raman Singh before the public by bringing stunning facts about his government's corruption and scandals."
"His image is not clean as it has been widely publicised and projected."