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This Congress candidate has no interest in winning election

Congress candidate from Bastar has no interest in national politics, reports Pradip Kumar Maitra.
PTI | By Pradip Kumar Maitra, Jagdalpur
UPDATED ON APR 14, 2004 11:17 AM IST

Unlike those who put in everything at their disposal to get the party nomination and even work harder to translate the party's faith into votes after getting a ticket, one candidate seems not interested in the idea of winning.

Leader of the Opposition in Chhattisgarh Assembly and Congress candidate from Bastar Lok Sabha constituency, Mahendra Karma did not have to go through the gauntlet of ticket-seeking Congressmen as the Bastar nomination fell in his lap.

Party sources revealed that when Karma, who was more happy with the post of the leader of opposition in Chhattisgarh Assembly, was asked to contest from Bastar, he told the State party leadership that he was not interested in central politics and the party was free to chose another candidate.

But the PCC chief and AICC treasurer, Motilal Vora insisted that he should contest. He was considered as the best option because he is the lone Congress leader in the area who has a considerable clout in the entire Bastar region. It was in 1996 when Karma won from Bastar as an independent by defeating both the BJP and Congress candidates, Baliram Kashyap and Mankuram Sodi respectively.

But Karma was not ready to leave the post of leader of the opposition. He got the coveted post, which is higher than a cabinet minister, after series of lobbying with Delhi leaders and hardship as the former chief minister Ajit Jogi vehemently opposed his nomination.

But after much dilly-dallying, Vora prevailed. Karma reluctantly accepted the offer as Vora was behind his election as leader of the opposition.

But lack of interest on the part of Karma could ease the path for BJP candidate Baliram Kashyap.

Congress workers in the region allege that Karma was not even spending necessary money for campaigning. While he has been campaigning reluctantly in some parts of southern Bastar, his campaign in north Bastar is virtually nil.

When the state party leadership organised a public meeting of Sonia Gandhi on April 10 at Jagdalpur, he even did not help the organisers financially. "It is the duty of the PCC to extend all necessary help for organising party chief's meeting," he said and compelled the PCC to cough off money for it.

If the situation continues in this fashion, the battle would turn out to be a one-sided affair in favour of the BJP nominee, Kashyap.

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