The police has has sounded a high alert across Maharashtra for Tuesday’s Assembly polls, where over 1.29 lakh state police personnel along with Central Para Military Forces have been deployed to ensure peaceful conduct of the elections.
Director General of Police in-charge of elections, A N Roy, told reporters on Monday that adequate number of Central Para Military Forces (CPMF) have been deployed, mainly in naxal-infested areas like Gadchiroli to assist the state police. He, however, did not divulge the number of CPMF personnel pressed into service.
Of around 84,000 polling booths in the state, many have been classified as sensitive and hypersensitive.
All polling stations would be guarded by armed police personnel, Mr. Roy said.
“Utmost care has been taken to ensure fair and peaceful polls in naxal-hit areas following Maoists’ call for a boycott of elections,” the DGP said.
Security situation has been reassessed in Gadchiroli following the recent naxal assault on policemen that left 17 dead.
Mr. Roy admitted receiving intelligence inputs about a large number of naxals having infiltrated in the state from Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
Three states go to polls tomorrow
The stage is set for Tuesday’s assembly polls in Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh, the first crucial test of popularity for major political parties after the Lok Sabha polls.
While the Congress is in power in Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh, it shares power with Sharad Pawar-led NCP in Maharashtra where the main opposition is in the form of Shiv Sena-BJP alliance.
The Election Commission has made elaborate security arrangements with special focus on Naxal-hit areas in Maharashtra to ensure peaceful polling, which will start at 7 a.m. in all the three states.
The over four week-long electioneering saw top leaders of Congress, BJP and other major players of regional parties hitting the campaign trail in a big way.
While the campaign was generally peaceful, Naxalites struck in Gadchiroli in Maharashtra last week, killing 17 policemen in an ambush and triggering concern among election authorities. The EC has deployed as many as 18,000 central police forces in Maharashtra alone to ensure peaceful polling.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party general secretary Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh undertook whirlwind tours of the three states, where the party is making all-out efforts to retain power.
Senior BJP leaders L K Advani, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu were the opposition stalwarts who campaigned vigorously.
Stakes are high for Congress which is seeking to retain power in Maharashtra with its ally NCP for a third consecutive term. The Shiv Sena-BJP combine is also leaving no stone unturned to wrest power in the state, which ousted them ten years ago.
Amravati constituency has become the cynosure of all eyes as President Pratibha Patil’s son Rajendra alias Raosaheb Shekhawat of Congress is pitted against party rebel Sunil Deshmukh in that seat.
In Haryana, Congress is seeking a second term in office on the plank of development. The opposition in the state is a house divided with BJP snapping the tie-up with Om Prakash Chautala’s INLD and BSP coming out of an alliance with Haryana Janhit Congress.
Congress appears to be on a strong wicket in Arunachal Pradesh where Chief Minister Khandu Dorjee is among three party candidates elected unopposed.
In Maharashtra, the NCP, a major partner of the Congress-led coalition, has been battling hard to retain its position after a poor showing in the Lok Sabha polls.
Maharashtra has over 7.58 crore eligible voters to elect 288 MLAs, while Haryana has 1.31 crore electors for choosing 90 legislators. Arunachal Pradesh has 7.50 lakh voters who can exercise their franchise to select 60 representatives.
Counting of votes will take place on October 22.
Keywords: Maharashtra polls, Haryana polls, Arunachal Pradesh polls, assembly elections, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Cong-NCP combine, Shiv Sena-BJP combine, L.K. Advani, Raosaheb Shekhawat, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu