Whether the Congress strategy would pay remains to be seen, but political watchers believe that the party's poor handling of the issue may cancel out any electoral benefit it was expecting. Posters and hoardings put up by the party across the tribal belt have invoked the "sacrifice" of the then unit president Nand Kumar Patel, senior leaders V C Shukla and Mahendra Karma, besides numerous local faces while it has fielded their family members at various constituencies to encash upon it.
A tour across the region, however, shows the issue has not found much traction among voters. "Our leaders bickered for months over filling leadership positions caused by the sudden death of so many leaders instead of pinning down the BJP government for its failure in protecting them, giving the Raman Singh government lot of time to deflect blame and set the political agenda along its theme of 'vikas' (development), party leaders say. Former state chief minister Ajit Jogi has spoken candidly about his party's failure in building the "sympathy factor" as leaders indulged in "blame game".