This is not the first time that such a request has been made; similar concerns were put forth by the election officials of the state ahead of the 2013 assembly polls as well as the 2014 general election. However, both times the indelible ink that is made by Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited was used.
Former chief election commissioner HS Brahma said the issue was very sensitive; it may not be feasible to discontinue the use of indelible ink as it is the only sure-shot way of ensuring that no bogus voting takes place, he said.
“It will be very difficult and not advisable to change the rules at the last minute, especially since there is no foolproof alternative to using the ink,” he said.
The ECI has put forth the argument that doing away with use of indelible ink may jeopardise free and fair elections, although it says that the safety of voters, and polling officials and security forces deputed at election time, is paramount.
“There could be bogus voting, for instance, in which case the real voters will be denied a chance to exercise their franchise. There are several such concerns that the EC will have to consider,” the official quoted above said.
The eight most affected LWE districts in the state are Kanker, Rajnandgaon, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada and Sukma. Mahasamund, Dhamtari, Balod, Gariyahand, Kabirdham and Balrampur are also designated LWE districts.
In 2013, there were 58 incidents of Maoist violence during elections in Chhattisgarh, which left three security force personnel dead; five polling stations were attacked. In the 2008 assembly polls, 23 electronic voting machines were looted and 122 incidents of violence took place. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, 18 electronic voting machines were looted and there were 144 incidents of violence.