Maoists behind high polling in Kandhamal?

Reported by Simanchal Pattnaik
Phulbani, Apr 23:

Maoists, who have been routinely calling for poll boycott during every election, may have played a big role in ensuring very high turnouts in certin parts of Odisha’s Kandhamal district.

In sharp contrast to zero polling in some of the booths in the Maoist-affected districts in Odisha, especially in Malkangiri, Kandhamal recorded an unprecedented polling figures during the first phase polls on April 10 in areas where Maoists call the shots.

While a maximum polling of 80.59 per cent was recorded in Kotagarh block, a known stronghold of the Maoists, polling in the other two Maoist affected areas- Daringbadi and Tumudibandh-was as high as 72.93 and 64.27 percent respectively.

While many have attributed the massive turnout in these hypersensitive areas to the courage of the voters and the success of the administration’s vote awareness campaign, sources say the Maoist groups that operate in these localities reversed their stand and persuaded the people to cast their votes in favour the candidates of their choice.

Requesting anonymity, some of the polling officials, who were on duty at these polling booths, said even the known local Maoists and their supporters had come to cast their votes.

The matter calls for both a probe to check the veracity of the claims as also to find out the party or the candidates the Maoists chose to side with in this election.

“If the Maoist interference in the poll process is found to be true, it would mean that the left wing ultras are not only fully active in the district but also wield great influence over the people here,”said a senior NGO activist.

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