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Dantewada

The Chhattisgarh Industry minister and the Congress nominee from this naxal-infected constituency, Mahendra Karma, is indeed a one-man brigade.

india Updated: Nov 29, 2003 13:19 IST

The Chhattisgarh Industry minister and the Congress nominee from this naxal-infected constituency, Mahendra Karma, is indeed a one-man brigade.

He is facing an odd situation in that naxalites of People's War have threatened a poll boycott while he is not getting even the minimum help from the party for a smooth campaign. This is perhaps the lone Assembly constituency in the state where the Congress candidate is not using any poster or pamphalet where Ajit Jogi’s name has been figured. Locals feel that it was a deliberate attempt by Karma to neutralise anti-Jogi votes in the region.

Karma, a stormy Congress leader and once a strong contender for the chief ministership of the new state has been campaigning with only a handful of his local supporters. None of the prominent leaders visited his constituency, bordering Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa for campaigning.

But Karma is not unhappy. Once a Communist, the Industry minister won first from Dantewada as a CPI candidate in 1980. He left the CPI and joined the Congress later.

In 1996, he even dared to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Bastar as an Independent candidate and surprisingly defeated both therivals, the BJP and the Congress.

But this time, the situation has been made a little difficult for him as he is in the hit list of Naxalites due to his relentless campaign against the ultra-left organisation. A smooth campaigning is impossible in the region in the wake of the PW call for an election boycott, and with a Z-plus security cover it is all the more difficult for Karma to hold public meetings and move out in remote areas.

Karma has been locked in a triangular contest against the BJP’s Sannuram Sodi and Nandram Sodi of CPI for the crucial December 1 poll. Given the odds against him, Karma, still seems to have an edge over his rivals.

First Published: Nov 29, 2003 13:19 IST