A mother and son lock horns in this Maoist stronghold.
Outside Chhattisgarh, Dantewada is known for encounters between Maoists and security personnel, but this Assembly constituency is now bracing for a political duel between a mother and son.
Devati Karma, wife of Congress stalwart Mahendra Karma who was killed in a Maoist attack on May 24, 2013, is the Congress candidate for the second time.
Her son, Chavindra Karma, protesting against the Congress decision not to field him, has filed his papers as the Samajwadi Party candidate.
“For any individual, self-respect is the most important thing. In all these years, I have worked loyally for the Congress. No one can blame me for any anti-party activity. They have been promising me the moon,” he said. He wanted to fight the Lok Sabha election in 2014, but was denied ticket at the last minute. Sources said the Congress State leadership, including State president Bhupesh Bhagel, rushed to dissuade him from leaving, but to no avail.
“I am not against my mother. I am against those in the Congress who are firing from her shoulders,” he said.
Ms. Karma wants to keep mum. “I have nothing to say,” she said.
The feud in the Karma family could cost the Congress heavily, considering that the NOTA (none of the above) tally was more than the winning margin here in 2013. Ms. Karma defeated her BJP rival, Bhima Mandavi, by 5,987 votes but the NOTA votes totalled 9,677.
Dantewada has always been a swing seat. In 2008, it was with Ms. Mandavi and in 2003, Mahendra Karma won it.
The CPI has a strong presence here, though the last time it won this seat was in 1993 when Chhattisgarh was part of Madhya Pradesh. The Maoists have already given a call to boycott the polls.