The Dantewada Assembly bye-election in Chhattisgarh is scheduled to take place on Monday (September 23), along with three other seats in Kerala, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh each. The number and name of the assembly Constituency are 88 - Dantewada (ST). The counting of votes will be held on Friday (September 27).
Significantly, both the Congress and the BJP have fielded as candidates widows of party leaders killed by Maoists.
The Congress has fielded Devati Karma, whose husband Mahendra Karma was killed by the Naxalites in the Jhiram massacre. Many top Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh were killed in a Maoist landmine blast in Jhiram in 2013.
The BJP has nominated Ojasvi Mandavi, the widow Bhima Mandavi whose death in a Maoist attack on April 9 has caused the Dantewada by-election. Maoists had attacked the convoy of the BJP leader by triggering an improvised explosive device (IED) during the Lok Sabha election. Besides Mandavi, five security personnel were also killed in the attack. The BJP legislator`s vehicle was last in the convoy.
The BJP and Congress are locked in a direct contest in Dantewada and their campaign revolves around Maoism and the attempts of the two mainstream parties to garner sympathy votes.
The Election Commission (EC) has decided to use EVMs and VVPATs in the bye-election in all the polling stations. Adequate numbers of EVMs and VVPATs have been made available and all steps have been taken to ensure that the polls are conducted smoothly with the help of these machines.
The Model code of conduct is already in effect and is applicable to all candidates, political parties, the state government concerned and the Centre. The ECI has taken the decision to hold by-polls after taking into consideration various factors like local festivals, electoral rolls, weather conditions etc.