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Experts analyse high voter turnout in Maoist areas, a rejection to their ideology of violence.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014 - 5:30pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: ANI

The April 10 voting phase succeeded in recording a maximum turnout percentage on that day. Even in Maoist-hit areas of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, the voter turnout percentage was above fifty percent. 

Appreciating the turnout despite recent rebel attacks, Maoist expert Ajay Sahni described the holding of polls in these sensitive areas as courageous, and added that it was also a reflection of the voters' rejection of Maoist ideology and violence. "This reinforces the impression that was given in the elections last year, where for instance in Chhattisgarh, we have recorded a voter turnout of 73-74 percent in Maoist areas. It clearly demonstrates the rejection at one level at the entire Maoist ideology and methodology, principally of Maoist violence. People wish to be engaged in the democratic processes despite the various and very real failures of democratic governance. They do not see that the Maoists have no alternative," said Sahni.

He added that this should be taken as an encouragement and urged the next government to ensure greater security in these areas. "I think we should take not only tremendous encouragement from this, but also, this should be a mandate for the governments that come into power now. Whichever government comes now, should take strong action to ensure that governance is actually delivered in these areas," Sahni added.

In an attempt to disrupt the polls, major attacks were launched in Maoist-hit states .i.e. Bihar, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh, which resulted in the deaths of several security personnel and injuries to others. Prior to the polls, the rebels had distributed pamphlets with the objective of spreading panic among the voters. Sahni also said that the Maoists' inability to disrupt polls, was a consequence of the pressure being piled on them by the state. It also seemed to suggest that they may be willing for negotiations. "The fact that they are not able to disrupt polls is in fact the consequences of sustained pressure; it is because the state has been able to put them under pressure that they are now willing to at least say that they now want to come in for negotiations. So, I think, this will only strengthen the state's capability to exert even greater force against them," said Sahni.

Providing continued security in the Red Corridor, however, remains paramount in anticipation of further attacks post-elections. Sahni blamed the government for not providing proper safety equipments to the forces. "Everything eventually comes back to the government, to people who are actually making decisions of how much force is available, how much is it to be deployed, how many resources are given to the people who are on the ground, if you are sending in small contingents of forces who are not even given enough resources to protect themselves, they are thrown into camps which are not properly protected, not properly fortified. They are moving around in Maoist areas without even basic rudimentary equipments such as helmets and bullet proof jackets or their equipment is so inefficient that they are actually inhabited from operations by that equipment. A five kilo helmet an eight to twelve kilo bullet proof west, all these things are the result of government failing to take the right decisions and make the right investments at the right time," said Sahni.

In conclusion, Sahni mentioned that the success of two or three operations should not result in over confidence, as the Maoists have made their base so strong that they could easily deliver at least sneak attacks occasionally. The major concern is for the long term, for which the state needs to first generate security capacities to contain the violence, and second, even when it is completely in control, it needs to address the real grievances of the people, the real vacuum of governance that exists in large areas of this country, as otherwise, the cycle of failure either by the Maoists or the government will never come to an end.

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