Chhattisgarh: 7 candidates in fray for Bastar Lok Sabha seat
Raipur, Mar 29: Seven candidates are in the fray for the Naxal-hit Bastar Lok Sabha seat, which is the only constituency in Chhattisgarh where polling will be held in the first phase on April 11.
Congress' young and firebrand leader Dipak Baij will take on senior BJP leader Baiduram Kashyap in Bastar, which the saffron party has never lost since 1998.
"Seven candidates have remained in the race for Bastar constituency after the withdrawal of nominations ended on Thursday," an official of the state's chief electoral officer here said.
Total eight candidates had filed their nominations for the seat. After the scrutiny of papers, nomination of a candidate Jaisingh Kavde of Rashtriya Jansabha Party, was rejected that left seven nominees in the fray.
Later, no candidate withdrew from the contest nominations, he added.
All the contestants have been allotted elections symbols, the official said.
The BJP denied ticket to its sitting MP Dinesh Kashyap in Bastar and fielded its Bastar district chief Baiduram Kashyap.
Dinesh is the son of BJP stalwart and former MP late Baliram Kashyap. He was first time fielded from Bastar in a 2011 by-poll, which was necessitated following the death of his father and then MP. Dinesh had won that by-election.
He was elected for the second time in 2014.
Baliram Kashyap had won Bastar Lok Sabha seat since 1998 four times in a row.
Now, the BJP given an opportunity to Baiduram, a two-time former MLA from the region.
Congress has pinned its hopes on Dipak Baij, a sitting MLA from Chitrakot assembly seat, to reclaim Bastar after putting up a stellar show in the last year assembly election.
Bastar Lok Sabha seat comprises eight assembly seats, including seven reserved for the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category, and Congress had won seven of them in the state election, except Dantewada seat.
Aaytu Ram Mandavi of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Ramu Ram Maurya of Communist Party of India (CPI) are other key candidates in the fray in Bastar.
Elections to the 11 Lok Sabha seats in the state will be held in three phases on April 11, April 18 and April 23.
Altogether, 1,89,16,285 voters, including 94,38,463 women and 709 members of the third gender, are eligible to cast their votes.