Source: 
Financial Express
https://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/vishnu-deo-sai-tribal-bjp-leader-chhattisgarh-new-cm-whom-amit-shah-vowed-to-make-a-big-man/3334659/
Author: 
India News Desk
Date: 
10.12.2023

Vishnu Deo Sai was elected as the leader of BJP’s legislative party during a meeting of 54 newly-elected MLAs in Raipur on Sunday. He represents the Kunkuri Assembly constituency.

After days of speculation and suspense, Vishnu Deo Sai, a prominent tribal face of the BJP in Chhattisgarh, has been announced as the new Chief Minister of the state. He was elected as the leader of BJP’s legislative party during a meeting of 54 newly-elected MLAs in Raipur on Sunday.

In the 2023 elections, where the BJP bagged 54 seats out of 90, Sai won from the ST-reserved Kunkuri Assembly constituency (Jashpur district) defeating Congress’ sitting MLA UD Minj by a margin of over 25,000 votes.

The BJP, which had suffered a huge setback in tribal-dominated seats in 2018, put up a good show this time, winning 17 of the 29 seats reserved for Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates.

Interestingly, when Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah had campaigned in Kunkuri last month urging voters to vote for him, he had promised to make Sai “a big man”, if the party was voted to power.

Who is Vishnu Deo Sai?

Known for his down-to-earth attitude, Sai started his political innings as a village sarpanch and rose through the ranks to become a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first Council of Ministers after the BJP formed its full majority government at the Centre in 2014. He has been an MP too serving multiple terms.

Though he hails from a farming family based in a small village, Bagia, in the tribal-dominated Jashpur district, he inherits a rich political background. His grandfather late Budhnath Sai was a nominated MLA from 1947 to 1952. Other family members have also been in politics.

Vishnu Deo Sai studied in a government school in Kunkuri. He went to Ambikapur to complete his graduation but had quit his studies and returned to his village in 1988. He was elected as a “panch” of Bagia village panchayat in 1989, and a year later, he became the sarpanch unopposed.

He was elected as an MLA for the first time from Tapkara (in Jashpur district) in undivided Madhya Pradesh on a BJP ticket and retained the seat in the 1993 elections as well. In the next elections, in 1998, he contested the polls from the adjoining Pathalgaon seat, and lost. The BJP had fielded him 2003 and 2008 Assembly elections from Pathalgaon in Chhattisgarh, which came into existence as a separate state on November 1, 2000. However, he had lost both the Assembly elections.

He was elected as MP from Raigarh Lok Sabha constituency four times in a row – 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014.

After the BJP formed its government at the Centre in 2014 under the leadership of PM Modi, Sai was made Minister of State for Steel and Mines. In the 2019 General elections, Sai was among the then 10 sitting BJP MPs in Chhattisgarh who were denied tickets.

He served as Chhattisgarh’s BJP chief from 2006 to 2010 and again from January-August 2014. After BJP’s loss in the 2018 elections, he was given the charge again to lead the party in the state in 2020. Just a year ahead of the Assembly polls, he was replaced with Arun Sao, an OBC leader, in 2022.

Ahead of the polls in November this year, Sai was named a member of the BJP national executive in July.

Meanwhile, according to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Chhattisgarh Election Watch, which analysed the self-sworn affidavits of all 90 winning candidates in the recently-concluded polls, Sai has total assets worth over Rs 3 crore.

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