Poster war in C’garh among par­ties, and also be­tween Naxal, EC

The in­te­ri­ors of Dan­te­wada and Sukma re­gions, which have been among the epi­cen­tres of Nax­al­ism in the State, are full of posters put up by Nax­als ask­ing vil­lagers to boy­cott the elec­tions.

The Hitavada - - NATION - ■ By Jatin Takkar

AS a pitched po­lit­i­cal bat­tle un­folds be­tween the rul­ing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its main chal­lenger Congress in Ch­hat­tis­garh, an­other war is lit­er­ally on dis­play be­tween the Nax­als and the elec­tion au­thor­i­ties on walls and hoard­ings across the State’s Naxal-hit areas.

At some places, the huge ban­ners put out by the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion ask­ing peo­ple to cel­e­brate ‘vote pan­dum’, which in lo­cal Gondi lan­guage means ‘fes­ti­val of vote’, ac­tu­ally out­num­ber and out­size the posters of var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal par­ties too.

Be­sides, many polling booths are be­ing dec­o­rated like tem­ples.

Of­fi­cials said the posters have been put up to counter the Naxal pro­pa­ganda ask­ing peo­ple not to vote.

The in­te­ri­ors of Dan­te­wada and Sukma re­gions, which have been among the epi­cen­tres of Nax­al­ism in the State, are full of posters put up by Nax­als ask­ing vil­lagers to boy­cott the elec­tions.

As part of ef­forts to in­crease vot­ing, the ad­min­is­tra­tion and elec­toral of­fi­cers are also of­fer­ing good­ies to peo­ple, in­clud­ing to lo­cal women self-help groups who have been promised waiver of five per cent of their debts for bring­ing phys­i­cally dis­abled per­sons and vot­ers in the pe­riph­ery of the Naxal-af­fected areas to polling booths. The poll panel is also plan­ning to paint and colour all 232 polling sta­tions in Sukma, con­sid­ered a sen­si­tive area, like a tem­ple, its Dis­trict Col­lec­tor Amit Ku­mar Mau­rya said.

“There are 40 polling sta­tions in the dis­trict which will be shifted by ei­ther he­li­copter, or by cy­cle or by foot and in the sim­i­lar way agents will go to th­ese booths,” he said. To reach some of th­ese sta­tions, the poll agents will even have to cross a river. Dur­ing last Assem­bly elec­tions, 42 polling booths saw 0-10 per cent vot­ing but the ad­min­is­tra­tion is try­ing to make vot­ing day a fes­ti­val this time, he said.

“The ad­min­is­tra­tion wants to make the vil­lagers feel that they are not com­ing to polling booth but to a tem­ple to cel­e­brate a fes­ti­val. We are also fight­ing a war for the sake of democ­racy,” Mau­rya told PTI. He is hope­ful that polling will cross 65 per cent this time in the dis­trict, com­pared to 48 per cent in 2013 Assem­bly polls. Dan­te­wada, an­other Nax­alaf­fected area and an ad­join­ing dis­trict to Sukma, has gone one step fur­ther and has set up three pool­ing sta­tions in the hyper-sen­si­tive Naxal area, which will wit­ness vot­ing for the first time in last 20 years. “Te­lam, Te­tam and Gautse--- th­ese are three polling sta­tions, which will wit­ness vot­ing for the first time in last 20 years,” Dan­te­wada Dis­trict Col­lec­tor Sourav Ku­mar told PTI.

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