Raipur: The Naxal-hit Bastar region, which is made up of seven districts, is going to be a cliff-hanger between the ruling BJP and the main opposition Congress in poll-boud Chhattisgarh.Also Read - Ready To Withdraw From Poll Race If BJP Fields Honest Candidate From Panaji, Says Utpal Parrikar

The Congress had bagged eight seats in the last assembly polls out of 12 in Bastar in 2013 but the BJP has launched an aggressive campaign in the sprawling, forested ‘red zone’. Also Read - Congress Releases List Of 40 Candidates For Manipur Polls, Fields Okram Ibobi Singh From Thoubal

Political analysts say that the BJP holds an edge in Bastar but the Congress appears to have made a comeback in the past one week due to an unrelenting election campaign. It has also persuaded party rebels to pull out from the elections in favour of the official candidates. Also Read - Punjab Polls 2022: Bhagwant Mann, AAP's CM Candidate Challenges CM Channi to Contest Against Him From Dhuri

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“It’s a very close contest in Bastar and as of now the Bastar battle heads for a photo finish. The only worry for the Congress would be that BJP has largely convinced people in jungle areas that only the saffron party could eliminate insurgency and bring prosperity,” said Kawasi Lakhma, three-time Congress MLA from the state’s worst Maoist-hit Konta seat in Sukma district.

Chhattisgarh Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel though claimed: “Congress would definitely consolidate its seats tally this time in Bastar, despite the BJP putting in all its might and resources.”

The BJP which claims to have constructed roads, schools and hospitals in deep interiors of the ‘red zone’, has set a target of winning not less than 10 out of Bastar’s 12 seats.

“The BJP has the best ever chance in Bastar in this election. We have placed the right candidates in the right seats. Any figure less than 10 seats will be disappointing,” Raman Singh, the longest serving Chief Minister of the BJP, told IANS.

Singh is contesting from a Rajnandgaon seat. The Congress has fielded Karuna Shukla, niece of former Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to spice up the poll battle in Rajnandgaon, where Raman Singh’s son and BJP Lok Sabha MP Abhishek Singh appears to be calling the shots for the BJP.