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BASTAR -- The cradle of tribal politics in Chhattisgarh

In spite of 70% of its electors being illiterate, the Scheduled Tribe Constituency of Bastar in Chhattisgarh is dubbed as the cradle of Tribal politics where the voters have constantly defied the boycott threats of Naxalites.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2004 13:34 IST

In spite of 70% of its electors being illiterate, the Scheduled Tribe Constituency of Bastar in Chhattisgarh is dubbed as the cradle of Tribal politics where the voters have constantly defied the boycott threats of Naxalites.

The seat has been a BJP bastion since 1996 but is set to witness a keen contest this time with Congress going all out to recover its lost ground here.

The main contestants will be the same as in last time -- sitting BJP MP Baliram Kashyap and Chhattisgarh CLP chief Mahendra Karma.

In 1999, BJP's sitting MP Baliram Kashyap had defeated Mahendra Karma of Congress by 20,737 votes in a 6-cornered contest. In 1998, he had drubbed Mankuram Sodhi of Congress by 16,886 votes.

Given the tribal concentration here, it is not surprising that the CPI or leftist independents have been doing well here. In fact, in the 13 polls held so far, Independents have been elected five times from here so far.

Mankuram Sodhi had been elected thrice in a row on the Congress ticket from here, between 1984 and 1991, but in 1996 he fell to history when Mahendra Karma, who had contested on the CPI ticket in 1984 and lost to Sodhi, was elected as an Independent.

In 1996, Independent Mahendra Karma defeated Congress' Mankuram Sodhi by 14057 votes while Congress' Mankuram Sodhi had drubbed Rajaram Todem of BJP by 17020 votes to bag the seat in 1991. COngress' Mankuram Sodi had won the seat in 1989 also, defeating BJP's Sampat Singh Bhandari by 36,226 votes.

Caste Equation

The constituency where more than 70% of electors are tribals is mainly dominated by Gonda who comprise 60% of the population here. Bhumias (6%) and Halbas (5%) are the other tribal communities of influence among the tribals. Fourteen per cent of the electors belong to Scheduled Castes.

First Published: Mar 27, 2004 13:34 IST