Voting will take place in five states throughout November ahead of the crucial 2024 general election
Hundreds of thousands of voters in the Indian states of Chhattisgarh in central India, and Mizoram in the northeast, headed to the polls on Tuesday amid heightened security to elect new legislators.
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 touted as a ‘semifinal’ ahead of next year’s national election, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be seeking a third term.
More than 160 million people, or about one-sixth of India’s total electorate, are eligible to vote in the regional polls in November, according to Reuters. The votes in all five states will be counted on December 3. Combined, they will send 83 representatives to the 543-member Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament.
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), helicopters were deployed to airlift electronic voting machines and personnel to 158 locations across five districts, the Hindustan Times reported.
Meanwhile, 126 new polling booths have been set up in areas that were inaccessible before due to the Maoist influence, the report added. Over 20 million voters are registered to vote in Chhattisgarh in two phases covering 90 assembly seats.
Ahead of the polls, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldier was injured in a bomb blast orchestrated by Maoists in the Sukma district of Chhattisgarh.
Modi, who addressed a public rally in Surajpur, Chhattisgarh on Tuesday, claimed that the Congress has failed to control the Naxal violence.
Security was also beefed up along Mizoram’s international borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, and its internal border with another Indian state, Manipur, which has been affected by ethnic violence. Voting in 40 assembly constituencies in the relatively small Mizoram, which has an electorate of just over 850,000, is being held in a single phase. Regional party Mizo National Front (MNF) won the last election after it gained 26 seats, while the Modi-led BJP could only secure one member of the Legislative Assembly.
Rajasthan is ruled by the Congress party and the BJP governs Madhya Pradesh, while the regional party Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) is in power in Telangana.
Overall, the federal government has planned at least 940 security checkpoints across the five states to monitor “election inducements,” according to risk management platform Crisis24. Random checks of non-chartered flights, trains, vehicles, and deliveries are also likely to be conducted across the states where votes are being held.
November 07, 2023 at 08:37PM