Indian Express

Soni Sori fails to hold sway over voters in Naxal-hit Bastar

Sori tried to attract tribal voters by issuing her manifesto on a stamp paper, but looked completely out of the race. Tweet This
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Contrary to expectations of a triangular contest in Chhattisgarh’s Maoist-hit Bastar Lok Sabha seat during the just-concluded elections, it turned out to be a confrontation only between BJP and Congress as AAP nominee Soni Sori could not make an impact on the voters.

Political experts were anticipating that there could be a three-sided clash in Bastar with the entry of 38-year-old tribal teacher-turned-activist-turned-politician Soni Sori in the fray.

Moreover, the poor show by BJP in the last year’s Assembly polls in Bastar region was being seen as another
factor likely to influence the LS polls in the zone.

However, it was like a cakewalk for BJP’s sitting MP Dinesh Kashyap, who comfortably won with 3,85,829 votes, defeating his Congress rival Deepak Karma (2,61,470 votes) by a whopping margin of 1,24,359 votes.

Kashyap is the son of veteran BJP leader and renowned tribal leader late Baliram Kashyap.

BJP state spokesperson Rasik Parmar feels varied issues influence the winning factor in both Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha seats and they were well aware that people would not accept Sori, who had earlier been arrested on charges of acting as a Naxal conduit.

“The issues were different in this election as compared to last year’s Assembly polls. Both, the name of Modi ji and work of Chief Minister Raman Singh orchestrated BJP’s sounding win in the general elections,” Parmar told PTI.

“We were already aware of the fact that people of Bastar will not accept Sori. We were confident of our victory in Bastar Lok Sabha seat,” he said.

Sori tried to attract tribal voters by issuing her manifesto on a stamp paper, but looked completely out of the race as she got only 16,903 votes and stood in the fourth position.

Notably, the None of The Above (NOTA) option was the third choice of the voters in Bastar seat as a total of 38,772 electorate opted for it.

Sori secured only 2.1 per cent of the total 7,69,449 votes polled in Bastar seat.

In the 2013 Assembly polls, BJP had only won 3 – Jagdalpur, Narayanpur and Bijapur- out of the eight Assembly segments of Bastar, which was another key factor expected to play a crucial role in the general polls.

Rest of the five Assembly seats- Kondagaon, Chitrakot, Bastar, Dantewada and Konta – had then gone to Congress camp.

Keeping in mind the political situation, Congress had fielded Deepak Karma, whose father Mahendra Karma, founder of Salwa Judum movement and former Leader of Opposition, was killed in Jiram valley (Bastar) Naxal attack on May 25 last year, to garner sympathy votes.

But, this factor also failed to make any impact on the BJP’s victory margin.

In 2011 Bastar Lok Sabha bypoll, Dinesh Kashyap had defeated Congress’ Kawasi Lakhma by a margin of 85,000 votes and this time his victory margin crossed 1.24 lakh votes.

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