Millennium Post

Amid Naxal threat, first phase of Chhattisgarh election today

Nearly 600 companies of additional forces, from both central para militaries and police personnel from other states, with little knowledge of Maoist military strategies, have been deployed to conduct polling in Maoist-Chhattisgarh.

These extra security forces have been given some elementary training to fight the rebels. Explosive experts from Pune have delivered few lectures and the additional forces were taken out to some ‘friendly’ search operations. BSF in Kanker, ITBP in Rajnandgaon and CRPF and CoBRA have been engaged to train the new force.

That apart there is little to rejoice at the moment for the security forces as 12 constituencies of south Chhattisgarhs seven districts and six constituencies in Rajnandgaon are going to poll on Monday. 143 candidates, 10% of whom have criminal records, will be contesting in the first phase. While the main contenders are BJP, Congress and CPI, several unknown independent candidates, mostly party rebels, are in the fray. Nearly 30 lakh electors will choose their MLAs in the first phase, polling in 12 constituencies of extreme south will end at 3 p.m. for security reasons.

BJP had won 15 of 18 seats and these seats catapulted the party to power in 2008, while in rest of the seats, across the State, Congress got almost as many as the ruling party. Rebel BJPs leaders, who were refused a ticket, gave a tough time to the party but were managed after they were offered vehicles with sirens, which means they will get plum postings, said a BJP leader. Congress or CPI has failed to manage many of their rebels using similar strategies.

Moreover, Congress is far behind in booth management as they have less money or manpower, compared to BJP, and hardly worked under a united leadership. Even then security agencies, after informal internal survey, are giving Congress at least six seats more compared to 2008. A jump from three to nine or 10 in first phase will make Congress top-seeded team.

Meanwhile,  security forces have been directed to sanitise school buildings and other premises to be used for polling in hyper-sensitive areas.

The other precautionary orders given to security forces, particularly to those who have arrived from other states for conducting polls, are not to venture in the forest areas in search of mobile phone signals and to go to washrooms with security cover, a senior police official said on condition of anonymity.

Maoists can take advantage of such a situation to launch an attack on police personnel, as they have did in the past, he said.
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