Dantewada: The Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s by-election candidates in Dantewada submitted their nominations on Wednesday. While BJP leader Ojaswi Mandavi reached the collectorate along with former chief minister Raman Singh to submit her papers after holding a rally amid much fanfare, the Congress’ Devti Karma too was accompanied by several senior party functionaries, including Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, but it was comparatively low-key affair.
Both Ojaswi and Devti are widows of senior leaders of their respective parties and were killed in separate Maoist attacks. Ojaswi’s husband, Bhima Mandavi, was an MLA from Dantewada. He was killed by the Naxals in April this year. Devti’s husband, late Congress leader Mahendra Karma, died in a Maoist attack in 2013.
Soon after Devti filed her nomination, Baghel addressed a gathering and listed out the achievements of his government. He also hit out at the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre for not sending its counsel to the Supreme Court when the forest land rights case was being heard following which the apex court issued orders to move tribals out of their homes.
“Our government submitted an affidavit in the SC after which the process of patta (land rights document) distribution was started,” said Baghel, while accusing the BJP of trying to sell the Nandraj hills. The previous Raman Singh-led BJP government had sanctioned handing over the hill to the Adani mining group. Following massive protests by tribal groups, the contract was cancelled by Baghel earlier this year.
Singh too addressed a gathering in favour of his party nominee. He recalled Bhima Mandavi’s contribution and said his widow would take forward his unfinished work. Polling for the Scheduled Tribe-reserved constituency will take place on September 23.