Chhattisgarh: BJP candidate and ex-CRPF commando defeats Congress minister
Constable Toppo, a recipient of the President’s Medal for Gallantry in 2021, defeated sitting Congress MLA Amarjeet Bhagat by 17,160 votes
Ram Kumar Toppo (31), a former Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) commando who took voluntary retirement in August 31 to contest the Chhattisgarh assembly elections, won from the Sitapur constituency on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket, according to the results announced on Sunday.
Constable Toppo, a recipient of the President’s Medal for Gallantry in 2021, defeated sitting Congress MLA Amarjeet Bhagat, who was also a minister in the Bhupesh Baghel-led Chhattisgarh government. Toppo had joined the BJP on September 1.
Earlier this year when he was still in service, Toppo was awarded a medal by Union home minister Amit Shah during the force’s raising day function, held in Chhattisgarh’s Jagdalpur. For the first time, the CRPF held the function in Chhattisgarh to send a message to Naxals that the state is firmly under the control of the security forces. The CRPF is the primary force deployed by the Centre for anti-Naxal operations in the state.
Speaking to HT over the phone, Toppo said, “I was not a part of any political party until the day I resigned. This was the first time I was contesting. The Congress had held the Sitapur seat for 20 years. The people in my constituency knew that I was a part of CRPF and was also involved in social work. They decided to give me a chance, so I took a leap into politics.”
Toppo defeated Bhagat by a margin of 17,160 votes. In his election affidavit, he had identified himself as Poorv Sainik Ram Kumar Toppo. He won 83,088 votes. Bhagat, who was the tourism, culture, food and consumer protection minister, got only 65,928 votes.
The 31-year-old jawan, who served in Nagaland, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Delhi, was posted in the CRPF’s commando unit for four years (2018-21) while in Srinagar.
Toppo was part of a team that neutralised 3 terrorists who tried to disrupt local body election officials in 2018 in the Valley. The encounter in Srinagar’s Mujgund area had lasted for almost 18 hours.
“I joined the CRPF in 2011. I was in the commando unit for 4 years only, but during those times, I was part of several operations in which our force neutralised terrorists. I can speak about the 2018 operation because I received the President’s Gallantry Medal. There are others, which were covert and should not be disclosed. Apart from that, I was involved in different law and order duties related to internal security, conducting elections in other parts of the country,” he said.
“People here were fed up with the mafia, be it land or sand. There is no women empowerment here. So, the locals had come up with different names from this area to contest the elections and finally selected me. This is their victory. I served the country when I was in uniform for 13 years. Now it is time to serve my people and the country in a different role,” Toppo added.