Though the saffron party managed to retain its hold over state Assembly elections, it got a cold shoulder by the tribals in many of their dominated areas. (Agencies)
Prominent BJP ministers - Nankiram Kanwar, Ramvichar Netam and Lata Usendi - and several sitting MLAs tasted defeat in the elections from tribal areas, where the party had an overwhelming backing till recently.
Of the 29 scheduled tribe (ST) reserved seats, the Congress won 18, leaving just 11 for the ruling party. Surprised by the results, BJP MLA Mahesh Gagda said that it was a matter of concern that the tribal leaders who were connected to the people have lost.
Gagda, the second time MLA, retained his Bijapur (ST) seat from Bastar region defeating Vikram Mandavi (Cong) by 9,487 votes.
"We will sit together and introspect to find out our lacunae. We will work on the issues and yield a better result in Lok Sabha election," he said.
Another prominent leader from Bastar, Kedar Kashyap, who was tribal welfare minister in the last term of BJP, regretted that even after concentrating enough in tribal areas, the party suffered a setback.
"There was focus on the tribal region but it seems that some mistake happened. It is the time to sit together and discuss the issue within the party," he said.
Kashyap, who beat Congress' Chandan Singh Kashyap from Narayanpur seat by 12,800 votes, also expressed confidence of a good show by BJP in Bastar region during Lok Sabha polls.
In 2008, BJP had won 19 ST seats while Congress was limited to 10. Prior to that, in 2003, BJP had a spectacular show winning 25 ST reserved seats, leaving only 9 for rival Congress out of the total 34 seats.
Senior tribal leader and state Home minister Nankiram Kanwar lost Rampur (ST) seat of Korba district to Shyamlal Kawar of Congress by 9,915 votes.
Nankiram, a veteran in electoral politics having contested his first polls in 1972, became an MLA during undivided Madhya Pradesh in 1977, but he lost the three subsequent polls to Congress veteran Pyarelal Kanwar. He won again in 1990, but lost in the 1993 polls to his traditional Congress rival from the same constituency.
Another tribal bigwig and higher education minister, Ramvichar Netam lost his traditional Ramanujganj seat to Brihspat Singh of Congress by 11,592 votes.
Netam had begun his electoral debut in 1990 from North Chhattisgarh and won all the elections since then. Featuring in Raman Singh's ministry during the last two tenures, Netam was first elected from Pal in Sarguja region. When Pal constituency became non-existent after delimitation, he won from Ramanujganj constituency.
Two-time MLA Lata Usendi, who was the sole woman minister in the previous BJP rule, lost to Mohan Markam of Congress from Kondagaon seat by 5,135 votes. The BJP shockingly lost 8 out of 12 seats in Naxal-hotbed of Bastar region.
Though, BJP tried to encash the personal popularity of Chief Minister Raman Singh and his welfare schemes, yet there was resentment against many of its legislators owing to which the ST voters largely drifted towards the main Opposition, sources said.
Though the saffron party managed to retain its hold over state Assembly elections, it got a cold shoulder by the tribals in many of their dominated areas.