Mizoram in the northeast and Telangana in the south.
The polls are crucial as a pointer to what could lie store in next year’s general elections.
Shah praised CM Raman Singh for the social welfare schemes he has introduced and for attracting industries to the state, and expressed confidence the BJP will win a fourth consec- utive term in Chhattisgarh.
Gandhi accused Raman Singh of involvement in a Rs.5,000 crore chit fund scam and a Rs.36,000 crore fraud in the state subsidised public distribution system — allegations denied by the BJP.
BJP spokesperson, Sacchinand Upasana, termed the allegations a bunch of lies. Congress spokesperson, RP Singh, said Shah and Raman Singh had nothing new to offer the electorate and were repeating “bogus” claims.
Subrat Sahoo, Chhattisgarh’s chief electoral officer, expressed confidence that polling in the first phase in areas where Maoists hold influence will be peaceful. “We have deployed adequate security forces to ensure violence-free polling,” he said.
The Centre has provided an additional 65,000 security personnel, drones and helicopters ahead of the polling in the state , where three major attacks by Maoists have been reported since the elections were announced on October 6. “We have got 650 companies for the first time for elections in the state,” said special DGP (Naxal), DM Awasthi.
On Thursday, the Maoists blew up a bus with an improvised explosive device in Dantewada, killing four civilians and a Central Industrial Security Force jawan. On October 30, three policemen and Doordarshan cameraman Achyutanand Sahu were killed in a Maoist attack in Dantewada. Three days earlier, four Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed and two injured when the rebels blew up a bullet proof vehicle in Bijapur.