Large contingents of central armed forces have been mobilised in coordination with the police machinery in the respective States to ensure peaceful conduct of the third round of Lok Sabha elections, with most of the Naxal-affected constituencies going to the polls on April 10, 2014.
The Naxals have given a call for poll boycott in their strongholds in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Polling will be held in 92 parliamentary constituencies across 14 States and Union Territories on Thursday.
Despite an offer for truce from the Communist Party of India (Maoist), the Union Home Ministry has apprehensions that the outfit would indulge in violence during the first major round of general elections. The Election Commission has also issued instructions to the Ministry to ensure free, fair and peaceful conduct of elections, directing that the central forces “must not be deployed in less than one-Section strength in insurgency/militancy/naxalite affected areas”.
While polls in Jharkhand are to be conducted in the Chatra, Kodarma, Lohardaga and Palamu constituencies, elections will be held simultaneously in Gaya, Nawada, Jamui, Aurangabad, Karakat and Sasaram constituencies of Bihar. Increased Naxal activities have been reported from Gadchiroli-Chimur in Maharashtra, whereas the Balaghat constituency in Madhya Pradesh -- a “retreat-and-recuperation centre” -- for the Naxals is also going to the polls during the third round. In Chhattisgarh also, Maoist-stronghold Bastar will go to the polls as will Koraput, Bolangir and Kalahandi constituencies of Odisha.
As per MHA records, a total of 109 Naxal-related incidents of violence were reported in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. This increased to 125 incidents, causing 24 deaths, in the 2009 elections. The worst affected States during both the elections were Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
Elections on April 10 will also be held for all the 20 parliamentary seats in Kerala, 10 in Haryana, seven in Delhi, one each in Chandigarh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep. Polling will also be held in 10 constituencies each in Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Maharashtra; nine in Madhya Pradesh, and one in Jammu and Kashmir (Jammu).