Maoist threat casts a spell on electioneering in interior villages

Campaign for the first phase of panchayat elections to be held in the Paderu Revenue Division, comprising 11 Agency mandals, ended on Sunday. The polling is scheduled for Tuesday.

Campaign was in full swing only in Araku and Anantagiri mandals and to an extent in Paderu, a major panchayat and the Revenue Division headquarters, and in a radius of a few kilometres around it. In the rest of the Agency area, it was confined to villages along the major roads.

There was no election fever in the interior villages owing to the CPI (Maoist) serving a warning to the aspirants not to contest and appealing to people to boycott the elections.

Maoists forcing withdrawal of the nominations or taking away nomination papers and aspirants not filing nominations due to Maoists’ threat resulted in elections not being held in 19 panchayats. Mandals like Dumbriguda, Munchingput, Pedabayalu, and GK Veedhi were “quiet” as far as election campaign was concerned.

Chintapalli, a major panchayat, the area from which Tribal Welfare Minister P. Balaraju hails, had seen a subdued campaign.

Here, the Congress-supported candidate and another reportedly being backed by all the other parties, are locked in a keen contest, according to reports reaching here.

Though the call for bandh in the AOB area on Sunday protesting against the killing of Civil Rights activist Ganti Prasadam failed to evoke any response, a sense of unease prevailed among people.

With police forces, including AP Special Police, Greyhounds, and CRPF, being deployed in large numbers (reportedly more than 2,000) in the Agency area for polling and combing intensified for the last many days, tense situation continues in the Agency.

The large police force had been spread out in the mandals and the polling booths would be under close watch.

The large number of police might deter the Maoists from resorting to violence on the polling day, but locals suspect the Maoists would not keep quiet as they had recently lost a woman member in an exchange of fire and almost every time an election is held they make an attempt to disturb the process.

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