Banners and leaflets written in the name of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) were seen today in the tribal-dominated Kanker district of southern Chhattisgarh, urging people to boycott the upcoming assembly elections in the state. The red banners written in Hindi said, "Boycott the Chhattisgarh Vidhan Sabha elections...what has the Chhattisgarh government done in 15 years?" and it went on on to list "Naya Raipur, new projects, new mines, new detention camps", which according to the outfit, have harmed tribals. Several leaflets calling for a boycott were also found.
However, not all election boycott calls have been linked to the Maoists. For instance, the residents of the tribal-dominated Belakchhar Gram Panchayat in Chhattisgarh's Korba district have announced that they would boycott the assembly elections as the government hasn't fulfilled any of its promises, reported ANI.
Boycott calls have had limited success in the past with almost all seats in Chhattisgarh recording a consistently high turnout. However, tribal dominated seats have seen a disproportionately high number of voters choosing the None of The Above (NOTA) option.
For instance in the 2013 assembly elections, 10.15 per cent voters in the Bijapur constituency in southern Chhattisgarh chose to press the button on NOTA rather than voting for any candidate. In Bastar district's Chitrakot constituency, 9.09 per cent voters chose NOTA in the last elections. The proportion of voters choosing NOTA in the 2013 elections was 8.93 per cent in Dantewada, 5.98 per cent in Narainpur, 5.91 per cent in Keshkal and 5.39 per cent in Kondagaon. All these six constituencies are reserved for candidates belonging to the Scheduled Tribes and are situated in the southern part of Chhattisgarh, that has been worst affected by the Maoist insurgency.
The average percentage of NOTA voters in Chhattisgarh was 3.07 per cent in 2013. It was even lower in urban areas. For instance in the Raipur City South constituency, where there were as many as 39 candidates in the fray, only 1.55 per cent voters chose NOTA in the 2013 assembly elections.
The 90 seats of the Chhattisgarh Assembly will vote in two phases - November 12 and November 20. The Maoist-affected districts of southern Chhattisgarh will vote in the first phase of polling.
(With inputs from ANI)