BJP president Amit Shah today offered prayers at Giroudpuri Dham, a popular pilgrimage site of Satnamis, a ST community, in Balodabazar district on the last day of his three-day visit to Chhattisgarh. He also visited Sonakhan village, the birth place of freedom fighter Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh in the same area. The BJP chief was accompanied by Chief Minister Raman Singh, party’s state unit president Dharamlal Kaushik, other senior leaders of the party and state ministers. Giroudpuri, located around 130 kms from the state capital, is the birth place of Satnami saint and social reformer Guru Ghasidas Baba. A 253-ft-tall ‘Jaitkham’ has been erected at the pilgrim centre, which is touted as the highest concrete tower in the country. After arriving at Giroudpuri, Shah and other leaders offered prayers at the ‘dham’ and also met seers of Satnami community there. “The massive ‘Jaitkham’ built at the birthplace of Guru Ghasidas Baba is spreading the messages of truth, non-violence, and philanthropy,” Shah said. His visit to the dalit community’s biggest pilgrimage centre in the state is seen as the BJP’s outreach to STs and SCs ahead of the next year’s Assembly elections in the state. The BJP is trying to vow Scheduled Caste community voters who constitutes about 12 per cent of the state’s total population of 2.5 crore. The community plays a crucial role in forming government in the state. However, SC voters, considered as the loyal vote bank of the Congress in the state, switched their loyalty to the BJP in the 2013 Assembly election. In the last assembly elections, BJP won nine out of ten SC reserved seats in the state, leaving just one for the Congress.
Shah subsequently went to Sonakhan where he addressed a gathering of people. “The valorous land of Sonakhan is sacred for every patriot. I feel fortunate to have visited this place of Chhattisgarh, where freedom fighter Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh was born. Singh had made a tremendous contribution in the freedom struggle in year 1857. “His love for the country and compassion for poor people is inspiring for entire humanity,” he said. On the occasion, the chief minister announced that a life-size bronze statue of the martyr will be erected in Sonakhan. Shah and other leaders also visited the ‘samadhi’ of Veer Narayan Singh and paid a floral tribute. During his three-day visit which began on June 8, Shah has interacted with MPs, MLAs, BJP office-bearers and booth representatives and has given them tips for strengthening the party ahead of the next year’s Assembly polls and 2019 general elections. A controversy erupted on the penultimate day of his three-day visit yesterday when he called Mahatma Gandhi a “chatur baniya”, a reference to his mercantile caste, while addressing a gathering of prominent persons in Raipur.