Aarti Dhar

JAGDALPUR (Chhattisgarh): The political parties describe it as social engineering but the local population calls it manipulation to usurp its rights. The delimitation process has de-reserved the Jagdalpur Assembly constituency and made a traditional Scheduled Tribes seat a general category one.

All major political parties have fielded general category candidates instead of those from the Scheduled Tribes, who constitute the majority of voters here. The argument is that even if the seat was de-reserved the parties could have still fielded ST candidates to send across the message that the rights of the tribal population are still protected. The Congress has fielded Santosh Bafna and the Bharatiya Janata Party Rekhchand Jain.

In the Kanker constituency, the former Union Minister Arvind Netam’s daughter, Preeti Netam, is contesting polls for the first time, much to the resentment of Congress rebel, Chandra Prakash Thakur, who is fighting the elections as an independent candidate and is likely to cut into the party votes.

The others contesting from here are Ramesh Netam of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Sumitra Harkole of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Sulochana Maraskole of the Bahujan Samaj Party.

The situation is similar in Bhanupratappur where the former Member of Parliament, Ganga Potai, has been given the Congress ticket. This has irked Manoj Mandavi, a Minister in the Ajit Jogi government who lost the 2003 elections. He, too, is contesting as an independent candidate and may make a dent in the Congress votes. Brahmanand Netam is contesting here on the BJP ticket.