Just days before Chhattisgarh's Dantewada is to go to polls in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections, BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi and five police personnel were killed when Naxals ambushed his convoy in the district's Nakulnar area on Tuesday afternoon.
Mandavi, 40, was the only BJP legislator in the 12 seats of the Maoist-hit Bastar region. The other 11 belong to the Congress. He became a legislator for the first time by defeating rival Manish Kunjam (CPI), and thereby relegating Congress veteran and former leader of Opposition Mahendra Karma to a third position in 2009, reported The Times of India.
He then snatched the reserved constituency of Dantewada from Congress' Devti Karma in the Assembly elections held in the district in 2018.
Devti, wife of Mahendra Karma who was killed in a Maoist attack in Jhiram Valley in 2013, earlier defeated Mandavi by nearly 6,000 votes. Incidentally, Mandavi was also the brother-in-law of Devti.
Mandavi had spoken out against the Naxal attack on a Doordarshan crew in October, 2018 in which cameraperson Achyuta Nanda Sahu and two police officers were killed in Dantewada.
He had also been vocal in his criticism of the ruling Congress. In November 2018, when a Narendra Modi lookalike from Dantewada, Abhinandan Pathak, joined the Congress saying 'achche din won't come', Mandavi was quick to remark that it only proved how the prime minister was immensely popular.
In April 2018, the Congress demanded Mandavi's arrest for putting up an 'offensive' photo with alleged derogatory remarks about party president Rahul Gandhi. Mandavi later apologised for the picture and blamed social media assistants for it.
Soon after the attack on Mandavi and the officers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to condemn the dastardly act:
Shri Bhima Mandavi was a dedicated Karyakarta of the BJP. Diligent and courageous, he assiduously served the people of Chhattisgarh. His demise is deeply anguishing. Condolences to his family and supporters. Om Shanti.
— Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 9, 2019
The attack also comes on the same day that RSS member Chandrakant Sharma was killed by militants in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir.
Maoists have unleashed three attacks in Bastar since the declaration of elections.
Dantewada, which comes under the Bastar-Jagdalpur parliamentary constituency, is part of the Red Corridor and is one of the worst Maoist-affected regions. Chhattisgarh will vote in three phases in the election: 11, 18 and 23 April.
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Updated Date: Apr 09, 2019 22:01:45 IST