Security beefed up in India as millions head to the polls

Lazy eyes listen


Hundreds of thousands of voters went to the polls on Tuesday to elect new legislators in the Indian states of Chhattisgarh in central India and Mizoram in the northeast.

Chhattisgarh and Mizoram are among five Indian states, including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Telangana, where voting will take place between November 7 and 30 – they are being billed as a’semifinal’ ahead of next year’s national election, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek a third term.

According to Reuters, more than 160 million people, or roughly one-sixth of India’s total electorate, are eligible to vote in the November regional elections. On December 3, all five states’ votes will be counted. They will send a total of 83 representatives to the 543-member Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament. 

According to the Hindustan Times, helicopters were used to airlift electronic voting machines and personnel to 158 locations across five districts in Chhattisgarh, where Maoist-related violence remains a major security concern for the federal government (the Maoists, also known as Naxalites, have been staging an armed struggle against the government).

Meanwhile, 126 new polling booths have been established in previously inaccessible areas due to Maoist influence, according to the report. In Chhattisgarh, over 20 million voters have registered to vote in two phases covering 90 assembly seats.

A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldier was injured in a bomb blast orchestrated by Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district ahead of the elections.

Modi claimed that the Congress has failed to control the Naxal violence during a public rally in Surajpur, Chhattisgarh, on Tuesday.

Security was also increased along Mizoram’s international borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, as well as its internal border with Manipur, another Indian state affected by ethnic violence.

Voting in 40 assembly constituencies in Mizoram, which has a population of just over 850,000 people, is taking place in a single phase. The Mizo National Front (MNF) won the last election with 26 seats, while the Modi-led BJP received only one member of the Legislative Assembly.

The Congress party governs Rajasthan, the BJP governs Madhya Pradesh, and the regional party Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) governs Telangana.