Woo­ing Vot­ers Over De­vel­oped District Tag

CON­STITUENCY WATCH

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

Our Po­lit­i­cal Bureau

New Delhi: Jag­dalpur has a long his­tory that emerged promi­nently dur­ing the Pravir Bhanj Dev rule; he was the Ma­haraja of Bas­tar state be­fore and af­ter In­de­pen­dence. Dev, the first of Oriya ruler of the erst­while tribal state, also won the Jag­dalpur as­sem­bly seat dur­ing polls in the un­di­vided Mad­hya Pradesh in 1957.

Over the years, the in­flu­ence of Bas­tar state with­ered away among its peo­ple and in pol­i­tics too. The rich legacy, how­ever, has en­sured that Jag­dalpur re­mains the most de­vel­oped of the seven dis­tricts of Bas­tar di­vi­sion, which are also de­scribed as the most af­fected Naxal ar­eas. It's also the ad­min­is­tra­tive head­quar­ters of Bas­tar di- vi­sion. For ages, the re­gion was in­tro­duced as "rich lands’ for poor peo­ple". But suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments have tried to de­velop the area to counter the dom­i­nance of Nax­als. The ef­forts gath­ered some pace dur­ing the UPA II regime, and got a fur­ther boost from 2014 when the NDA came to power. PM Modi, who had de­vised a spe­cial pack­age for the de­vel­op­ment of the Bas­tar re­gion, read out fig­ures dur­ing his maiden elec­tion rally in the district on Fri­day, and took credit for the "un­par­al­leled work" done by his party, es­pe­cially af­ter it as­sumed power both at the Cen­tre and state. The NDA gov­ern­ment's great­est achieve­ment here is the Jag­dalpur air­port, which was in­au­gu­rated by PM Modi in June this year to pro­vide re­gional air con­nec­tiv­ity un­der the UDAN scheme. A steel plant is also com­ing in Na­gar­nar, on the out­skirts of the state.

The only gen­eral seat in the first phase of polling for 18 seats has all along been a BJP bas­tion, with the party win­ning hand­somely elec­toral bat­tles from 2003 -- which is af­ter it was culled out as a sep­a­rate state from Mad­hya Pradesh.

San­tosh Bafna alone has rep­re­sented this seat in Vid­han Sabha twice, in 2008 and 2013. He de­feated Congress’ Rekhc­hand Jain and Shamu Kashyap in the last two elec­tions, re­spec­tively.

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