Chhattisgarh: Bastar goes to polls under shadow of Naxal threat

Raipur: Insurgency-hit Bastar (ST) Lok Sabha constituency in Chhattisgarh is going to polls in the first phase of elections on Friday amid ‘unprecedented’ security arrangements.

Around 80,000 security personnel including 35,000 Central Para Military Forces (CPMF) have been deployed across the LS constituency to blunt any Maoist threat and ensure smooth polling on the day, a senior police officer told this newspaper on Thursday.

For the first time in this poll, nine choppers have been deployed in Bastar to deal with any attempt by Maoists to disrupt elections on the polling day, the police officer said.

Bastar is going to LS polls four days after the killing of 29 Maoists by security forces in a jungle in the region.

“We have made all arrangements to ensure that the election is held smoothly and in a secured environment”, Bastar inspector general of police P Sunderraj said.

As many as 159 of the total 1961 polling booths established in the constituency fall under no internet network zone area, sources in the chief electoral officer’s office here said.

Of them, 61 polling booths have been declared ‘vulnerable’ while 196 others have been identified as ‘critical’ booths.

Ninety polling booths falling under no internet zone area have been supplied with walkie-talkies to keep in touch with them during the polling, while runners have been deployed in the remaining 69 polling booths to serve as couriers to exchange official communications during the period, an election officer said.

As many as 156 polling parties comprising 919 election officials deployed in remote and sensitive polling booths have been flown to their respective booths by choppers.

Significantly, Bastar is the only LS constituency in Chhattisgarh where female voters outnumber male voters.

There are 7, 00,476 male voters and 7, 71,679 female voters in the LS seat.

Mahesh Kashyap of BJP is pitted against former minister Kawasi Lakhma of Congress in an 11-cornered contest in the seat.

Congress has dropped sitting MP Deepak Baij, who is also state Congress chief, in the seat and replaced him with Mr Lakhma.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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