On Monday, defying Maoists threats, over 70 percent voters turned out to exercise their voting rights in 18 Naxal-hit Assembly constituencies of Chhattisgarh in the first phase of the assembly elections. The Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha said, “Over 70 per cent voters cast their vote… The final figure may touch the last election’s figure of 75 per cent as data is still being obtained.”
According to figures available so far, 61.47 per cent voter turnout was recorded in Kondagaon, 63.51 per cent in Keshkal, 62 per cent in Kanker, 58 per cent in Bastar, 49 per cent in Dantewada, 70.14 per cent in Khairagarh, 71 per cent in Dongargarh, and 72 per cent in the Khujji constituency.
Despite the fact that these areas are Naxal-hit, the turnout is huge. People of South Delhi and Bengaluru should take some inspiration from it.
Maoists tried their level best to subvert the electoral process. Just before the beginning of the voting, Maoists detonated an IED in Katekalyan in Dantewada district, narrowly missing the foot patrol team of the CRPF.
According to the reports, four Maoists were killed and two CRPF personnel suffered bullet injuries in an exchange of fire. This happened when the CRPF personnel were on foot patrol in the dense forest-area near Bijapur’s Majiguda village. The Hindustan Times has quoted special director general of police, anti-Naxal operations, DM Awasthi saying, “Four-five Naxals are reported to be dead but their bodies could not be collected due to continuous exchange of fire.”
Earlier On November 11, a day before first phase of polling, Maoists carried out two incidents of violence. On Sunday, One BSF soldier was martyred as Maoists triggered six IED blasts in Kanker district.
In an encounter, District Reserve Guard (DRG) killed two Maoists in Sukma district. DM Awasthi said, “The encounter took place at 5.30 pm when DRG security parties were coming back from Chitolnar after giving cover to polling parties.”
According to a Firstpost report, in Palam Adagu village in Sukma district, voting was conducted for the first time since the formation of Chhattisgarh. Several polling booths were set up this time in villages across Dantewada, Sukma and Bijapur districts where voting hadn’t been conducted since the state came in to existence.
Earlier, like every time during elections, this year also Naxals issued diktats to people to boycott elections. One of the pamphlets accessed by the Economic Times in jungles of Bastar region reads, “Desi Videshi Corporate gharana prastha va brahmanya Hindutva fasiwadi Bhajpa ko mar bhagao. Vote mangane ane wale anya sansadi dalo ko jan adalat ke katghare me khada karo (throw out indigenous and foreign corporate houses friendly and Brahminical Hindutva fascist BJP. Bring the rest of the political parties to people’s court).”
Another pamphlet issued by the CPI (Maoists) reads, “Farzi Chhattisgarh Vidhan Sabha ka Chunao ka Bahiskar karo. Jantana Sarkar ko majboot karenge unka vistar karenge. Janyudhya ko tej karke, daman yojna-samadhan ko harayenge (Boycott fake Chhattisgarh Vidhan Sabha election. Strengthen and expand people’s government. Speed up people’s war to defeat the oppressive regime).”
However, the high voter turnout suggests that people didn’t give any heed to diktats of Naxals and came out in large numbers to cast their vote even in worst Naxal-hit areas. This not only shows the declining impact of Naxals in these areas due to continued crackdown by the security forces but it also is an assertion of faith by people in the security forces.
The voting for second phase of Chhattisgarh state assembly elections for the remaining 72 seats will be held on November 20. The results will be announced on December 11.