In Chhattisgarh, where parties have traditionally vied for farmers support to win the assembly polls, the BJP has fielded a labourer – who lost his son in a communal clash – to take on seven-time Congress MLA and parliamentary affairs minister Ravindra Choubey in Saja constituency.

Ishwar Sahu’s eldest son Bhuvaneshwar was killed in a communal violence in Biranpur in April this year. The killing triggered backlash from right-wing groups, including the Bajrang Dal. Sahu rejected Bhupesh Baghel government’s Rs 10 lakh compensation and offer for government job, and was subsequently asked by the BJP “top brass” to contest the assembly polls. Now, he is being hailed as a local Hindutva champion and the face of the BJP’s latest “experiment in communal politics”.

Sahu, who lives in a two-room house with his wife and two children, has reportedly become a bone of contention among the local BJP leaders eyeing the party ticket in Saja. But introduced as ‘Biranpur wale’ in poll rallies, referring to the Biranpur incident, the labourer has become popular among the  Sahu and Lodhi communities that are dominant in the region.

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