Rigging, an insult to democracy
The recent allegation of AAP’s candidate from Bastar Soni Sori that she was the only person from her village Chameli Patelpara who exercised her franchise, raises serious doubt about EC’s claims of 52 per cent polling in the constituency. Sori has alleged that people didn’t come out to vote due to the fear of Maoists. Bastar is a Naxal hotbed and the rebels often threaten poor villagers to boycott polls. Soni Sori, a social activist had launched massive electoral campaign to garner support of tribal voters. Activists and NGOs from across the country came out to support her Lok Sabha poll campaign. While other candidates confined their campaign to district areas, Sori could dare to visit Bastar’s remoter areas, considered Naxal-stronghold. If her claims of poor turnout are to be believed, how did EC come out with the figure of 52 per cent? This might also be a part of larger conspiracy to favour any particular political party or a candidate. The possibility of bogus voting, still evident in most parts of India can’t be ruled out. The turnout in Bastar was very low vis-à-vis assembly polls held last year where over 70 per cent polling was recorded. Another reason for lower turnout was lack of security arrangements in place. While 564 companies of additional paramilitary forces were deployed in Bastar during the assembly polls last year, only 143 additional forces were deployed for Lok Sabha polls. Holding free and fair elections in the red-corridor has always been an uphill task for EC. More than the polling, safe transportation of ballot boxes and security officials is a bigger challenge. But the EC must ensure that there is adequate security in place, especially in remotest parts of Bastar so as to enable villagers to openly come out and cast their vote.