But the Commission is under pressure from CPI not to shift stations

Nearly 50 per cent of the polling stations in Chhattisgarh have been marked as “hyper sensitive” or “sensitive” in the coming Assembly election. Of the 21,424 polling stations in the State that has 90 constituencies, 3,249 have been marked “hyper sensitive” and 6,920 “sensitive,” said Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) V.S. Sampath here on Saturday.

While the Election Commission has not specified the locations of these booths, they are likely to be situated in Maoist-controlled Bastar and South Chhattisgarh.“Bastar is what has taken most part of our time,” the CEC said.

The poll panel has, over the last two days, held a series of meetings with the State’s officials to review the preparedness for the poll, to be held in two phases — on November 11 and 19.

The EC is not keen, largely due to the pressure of the Communist Party of India, on shifting the polling stations to safer areas with better security cover in Bastar. It violates the EC guidelines to shift a booth 15 to 20 km from a voter’s residence. In [such a case], the EC should arrange for a helicopter to take voters to polling stations. If polling parties [can be allotted] helicopters, so [should] the average voter, if we believe in democracy, said senior CPI leader Chittaranjan Bakshi to The Hindu. However, State police are reluctant to escort polling teams to booths in south Chhattisgarh.

Mr. Sampath said 323 stations were proposed to be moved, but the number would be “reduced to half.”

On Saturday, Mr. Sampath said the administration had to prioritise “safety and security [of polling individuals].”