Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Bhima Mandavi was killed in a dastardly attack on his convoy by Naxals in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada on Tuesday.

Four others, including three of Mandavi’s PSOs, died in the blast triggered by a powerful IED. Five personnel of Chhattisgarh State Police were reportedly critically injured.

The attack came less than 48 hours before voting begins for the Lok Sabha elections in Bastar. Dantewada is an assembly constituency of Bastar. Mandavi was elected the MLA in last year’s assembly elections in the state.

“We have information of BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi, his driver and three PSOs getting killed in IED blast in Dantewada today evening. It was a powerful IED blast. Bodies to be evacuated at the earliest for identification,” said P Sundar Raj, DIG, Anti-Naxal Operations in Chhattisgarh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack while expressing grief at the passing of the lawmaker and security force personnel.

“Strongly condemn the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh. My tributes to the security personnel who were martyred. The sacrifices of these martyrs will not go in vain,” he tweeted.

“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,” the PM added.

 

The IED blast happened between Kuakonta and Syamgiri in Dantewada. Mandavi’s convoy had an escort vehicle of State Police. The lawmaker was campaigning for his party in the area.

Photos from the scene of the incident showed a mangled vehicle and a damaged stretch of road.

Following the blast, CRPF jawans were sent to the area for reinforcement.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel called a high level meeting.

Polling in Chhattisgarh will be held in three phases on 11 April, 18 April and 23 April.

Naxal hits Bastar is the only constituency in the state which goes to polls on 11 April.

This is the second Naxal-linked incident in which an elected lawmaker from the state was killed.

A Maoist attack in Sukma’s Darbha valley in 2013 had killed 27 people, including the top leadership of the Congress that included state minister Mahendra Karma and state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel.