When BJP leader L.K. Advani claimed before a gathering of tribals at Jagdalpur recently that the BJP would win all the 12 assembly seats in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, his confidence was backed by the support of the Sangh Parivar.
In the last assembly elections in 2003, the BJP had captured nine of these 12 seats in the Naxal-affected region.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its youth wing Bajrang Dal have in the last decade penetrated the interiors of Bastar through tribal-based programmes carried out by the Ekal Vidyalayas and Van Bandhu Parishads.
This has helped the BJP gain fresh political ground in this region, parts of which even the security forces dread to tread.
“Through our programmes in the tribal areas we have been bringing Hindus together for more than a decade now. And where Hindus come together, obviously it will benefit the BJP during elections,” said Ramesh Modi, president of the state unit of the VHP.
“It is not like in Gujarat. Here in Chhattisgarh, the VHP and BJP share a very warm and cordial relationship and we provide it all — out support,” Modi added.
Be it the Dantewada, Bijapur or Kanker districts of the Bastar region, VHP-run programmes are pushing the BJP into the tribal hinterland.
“When we participate in these programmes, it also takes care of our basic necessities such as food. And they are part of the ruling government, so we are protected,” said Mukesh Kashyap of Kondagaon.
With such support, the BJP’s spirits are soaring high.