The recently concluded first phase of voting in Chhattisgarh on November 12 saw an encouraging 70% voter turnout, as reported by Livemint. In 2013, the voter turnout stood at 67%. This means that the people of the state defied the call for the boycott by the naxals.
Impressive voter turnout
The voting held on November 12 was for 18 seats. Out of these 18 seats, 12 were reserved for Scheduled Tribes and one for Scheduled Castes, reported The Indian Express. In the second and last phase of voting which is to be held on November 20, 72 seats are at stake.
For the first phase of voting, about 1.25 lakh security personnel were deployed. The final counting will take place on December 11.
One of the highlights of this election was setting up of “Sangwari” polling booths at various constituencies. In the local dialect, “sangwari” means “friend”. These polls were manned by an all-female staff. The Chief Electoral Officer Subrat Sahoo said that in every assembly segment, five Sangwari Polling Centres were set up.
The Maoist had put up posters in Naxal-hit areas Dantewada and Sukama regions, urging the locals not to go for voting. To counter the diktat issued by the Maoists to the villagers asking to boycott voting, the Chhattisgarh government has put up huge banners inviting people for “vote pandum”, which means “festival of vote”. Sukuma District Collector Amit Kumar Maurya said, “”There are 40 polling stations in the district which will be shifted by either helicopter, or by cycle or by foot and in the similar way agents will go to these booths,” said DC Maurya to NDTV.
In fact, Dantewada District Collector Sourav Kumar said that Telam, Tetam and Gautse polling stations witnessed polling for the first time in 20 years.
Showing the way ahead, a 100-year-old woman Vishwas cast her vote at the Dornapal polling station. In Gorgunda’s Devarpalli, a 103-year-old disabled woman, Sona Bai, who was carried by her son, cast her vote.
In a gunfight that broke out between the security forces and the Naxals, five personnel of Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) got injured and five naxals got killed. The encounter took place at Bijapur’s Pamed area on November 12.
Also, at Dantewada, an improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated in the early hours of the polling day, as reported by News18.
Metro cities like Bengaluru, Chennai need to learn from Chhattisgarh
In the Karnataka elections held in May, Bengaluru, one of the fastest growing cities of not just the country, but of the world, saw a dismal voter turnout of 54.76%.
Chennai, being one of the major metropolitan cities of the country saw the second lowest voter turnout in the state during the 2016 elections. Against the state’s average of 73.8%, Chennai stood at 60.5%.
If Chhattisgarh could defy all odds and vote, then there should no reason for cities like Bengaluru and Chennai to not participate enthusiastically in the process.
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