Friday, April 18, 2014

52 per cent polling in Bastar says EC, where are the voters asks Soni Sori

The Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Bastar Lok Sabha seat Soni Sori has raised serious doubts over voter turnout in the Naxal-affected constituency in Chhattisgarh.

‘I was the only voter at the polling station in my village Chameli Patelpara on 10 April. All the men and women of my village and neighbouring villages were in hiding in forest areas,’ said Sori to Millennium Post in a telephonic interview. 

Sori also said there were around 2,000 voters for that polling station but none turned up to vote. ‘The Naxals had threatened villagers that they would chop off their hands if they came out to vote. So villagers had fled into deep forests,’ added Sori

She said hardly one or two voters came forward to cast their votes at most of the polling stations in the area and that too after repeated requests from security officers and the polling team. She claimed the situation was almost the same in entire Dantewada assembly segment of Bastar Lok Sabha constituency.

‘The polling stations were around 20-25 kms from the villages which means for the voters it was around 40-50 km journey to exercise their democratic rights,’ said Sori. She blamed both Naxals and the government machinery for the mess. ‘I don’t know how they are showing such huge voter percentage,’ said Sori when told that Bastar had recorded 52 percent polling. 

As per reports of the election commission, the poll percentage showed a marked improvement from 47.33 in 2009 to 56.40, though this is less than the turnout in the November 2013 assembly poll. ‘It creates a serious doubt whether reports of higher poll percentage in Naxal areas are genuine as our candidate has a different story to tell. If genuine, it shows people living in villages want to cast their votes,’ said Prashant Bhushan, senior leader of AAP. 

He added tribals face extreme exploitation by police, forest department officers, contractors and corporates. ‘Ending the exploitation of tribal people is the only solution to Naxalism,’ he emphasised.