A Bharatiya Janata Party leader was killed by suspected Maoists on Saturday in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district, three days before the first phase of polling in the state, the police said.

Ratan Dubey, the vice president of the BJP’s Narayanpur unit, was hacked to death with a sharp-edged weapon around 5.30 pm during a campaign in Kosalnar village, Additional Superintendent of Police Hemsagar Sidar told PTI.

“A police team has rushed to the spot,” Sidar added. “The body was brought to Narayanpur town. Security forces have launched an operation in the area to trace the unidentified assailants.”

Narayanpur is among the 20 Assembly seats where elections will be held on November 7. The second phase of polls to the 90-member House will take place on November 17.

Narayanpur Superintendent of Police Pushkar Sharma told reporters that the authorities were not alerted about Dubey’s visit to the district.

Former Chhattisgarh chief minister and veteran BJP leader Raman Singh warned that soon every “criminal would be hung upside down and made to pay for their crimes”.

State BJP chief Arun Sao criticised the Congress, saying that the Narayanpur attack is a new episode in the series of targeted killings that is continuing under the patronage of the Bhupesh Baghel government.

“The Congress has been uprooted from Chhattisgarh,” he claimed. “Hence, it has indirectly handed over to Maoists the responsibility of creating an atmosphere of fear by encouraging violence.”

Dubey was the sixth BJP member to be killed this year.

The first three killings of Sagar Sahu, Neelkanth Kakem and Ramdhar Alami took place in a week between February 5 and February 11.

On October 20, BJP worker Birju Taram was shot dead by suspected Maoists in a remote village in Mohla-Manpur-Ambagarh Chowki district.