Cong faces tough fight with CPI in naxal-infested Dantewda | india | Hindustan Times
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Cong faces tough fight with CPI in naxal-infested Dantewda

india Updated: Nov 13, 2008 10:35 IST
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Named after a form of the Goddess Kali -- Danteshwari -- and now a hotbed of naxalism, the ST constituency of Dantewada goes to the polls on Wednesday amid killing of political workers and strident voices both in favour of and against the anti-Maoist 'Salwa Judum' movement.

A place of religious significance, earlier the shrine of Danteshwari was visited by devotees who came from far-flung areas but their numbers have dipped as incidents of naxal violence in Dantewada rose sharply in last one decade.

Politicians still pay obeisance at the shrine during elections but it is naxalism which dominates electioneering in Dantewda.

The constituency is the battleground of the Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the state Mahendra Karma. He faces a tough fight from Manish Kunjam of CPI.

Karma, known for being at the forefront of the Salwa Judum movement, has won the seat three times -- two times consecutively on Congress ticket in 1998 (in undivided Madhya Pradesh) and in 2003 in the first assembly elections of Chhattisgarh state and once on a CPI ticket in 1980.

Kunjam, a two-time loser from Konta assembly segment, is is giving Karma a tough fight this time. Kunjam is banking on his support in rural areas, where he is popular owing to his movements against Salwa Judum and giving farmers' land to industries.

On his part, Karma, in an effort to give the contest a colour of anti-naxal and pro-naxal, has in political meetings strongly supported Salwa Judum and announced that his contest is neither with CPI nor with BJP but against the naxals.