Hailing from the tribal (Janjati/Vanvasi) dominated Jashpur region of Chhattisgarh, Vishnu Deo Sai has taken oath as the first Vanvasi Chief Minister of the Chhattisgarh state, where the Vanvasi community constitutes a significant majority. The swearing-in ceremony held in Raipur’s science college ground on Wednesday afternoon was attended by a number of senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) including the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, Party’s President, JP Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and other BJP CMs.
Now, after the conclusion of ceremonial formalities, Vishnu Deo Sai is all set to commence his tenure as the Chief Minister of the Vanvasi heartland. Let us delve into the political journey of the Vanvasi leader of the BJP.
Sai commenced his political journey after getting elected as a Panch (ward) from Bagia Gramme Panchayat, a remote region located in Jashpur, in the year 1989 and never looked back. Next year, Sai participated in the Panchyat elections again and emerged victorious as Sarpanch of the Bagia Panchayat.
In 1990, Sai contested from the then state assembly seat of Tapkara and had been elected as a member of the legislative assembly of undivided Madhya Pradesh for a term of three years. He was re-elected for the state assembly in the election held in the year 1993.
In the year 1999, Sai contested its first Lok Sabha election from the Vanvasi-dominated Raigarh Lok Sabha seat and was elected as a Member of Parliament of the 13th Loksabha. The popularity of Sai can be better understood by the fact that after being elected as an MP in 1999 Sai was re-elected from the same seat in the 2004, 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In between his years as an MP, Sai has been nominated in many committees formed by the respective governments of Bharat.
As BJP’s president in Chhattisgarh
During his years as an MP, Sai has also been bestowed with the responsibility of leading the BJP in the state thrice. He was first named as the president of the party in Chhattisgarh in October 2006. Sai first tenure as a party’s president lasted for around three and a half years, during which the party registered a resounding victory in the 2008 state assembly election, securing a total of 50 seats in the 90-seat state assembly election.
Sai was re-appointed as the party’s president for a short term of around six months in the year 2014, though he left the post after he was made the union minister for state for steel, labour, and employment in the NDA government in the subsequent year. He was again appointed as the party’s president in the year 2020 for a period of two years, during which the party managed to perform well in Chhattisgarh in the 2019 Lok sabha election. In December last year, Sai was also nominated as a special invitee in the BJP’s national working committee.
Sai was asked to contest the recently held state assembly election from the much-hyped Kunkuri assembly seat, where he emerged victorious after defeating the Indian National Congress UD Minj by a margin of 25000 votes. Later on, Sai was chosen as the leader of the BJP’s legislative group in a meeting held in state assembly in Raipur on December 10, paving the way for Sai to become the first Vanvasi Chief Minister of the Vanvasi heartland.
It is to be noted that the saffron party’s move to choose Sai as the CM of the state is expected to further solidify the trust of the Vanvasi community in the Narendra Modi-led party, which earlier threw its weight behind Draupdi Murmu, another BJP leader of the Vanvasi community, for the presidential post.