Raipur: The 18 sensitive Assembly constituencies of Chhattisgarh will go to polls on Monday in Chhattisgarh's first phase polling for which a foolproof security arrangement has been put in place to ensure that the people cast their votes without any fear. Polling officers have already started moving to their respective locations where search operations are underway to avert any untoward incident. Some of these locations are in extreme interiors of the state and often lack network connectivity, which makes emergency intervention almost impossible.
Polling officers who had earlier facilitated voting in these sensitive areas recalled how they were attacked by Naxals, who also snatched electronic voting machines (EVMs) from their possession. Notwithstanding high threat perception, the officers are confident to conduct the polling process smoothly. "We are not scared at all," said a polling officer, who did not wish to be identified.
Dantewada's Additional Superintendent of Police Gorakh Nath Baghel admitted that conducting polling was a huge challenge this year as Naxals have planted IED (improvised explosive device) at several places. A massive combing operation is already underway by the security forces deployed in these sensitive areas. Even drones are being used at different places to monitor the situation.
The two-phased assembly elections in the state will be held on November 12 and 20. Chief Minister Raman Singh is contesting the elections hoping to retain his position for the fourth consecutive term in the state. He has left no stone unturned to regain his home turf Rajnandgaon constituency.
This time he is seeking re-election against Congress's Karuna Shukla who is the niece of late former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Shukla was a BJP Member of Parliament from Janjgir Lok Sabha constituency but she left the party in 2013 and joined the Congress in 2014.
Out of 90 seats in 2013, the BJP had bagged 49 constituencies while the Congress won 39 seats. In the last election, the BJP retained power in the state while losing its mark in Bastar division. On the other hand, the Congress managed to have an upper hand by grabbing eight seats out of 12 in the division. The BJP had won only four seats.
In the past five years, the Raman Singh-led government has claimed to have undertaken several developmental works in Bastar region. There are many assembly constituencies in Bastar division, where the BJP has given tickets to the old faces of the party this time.