In the villages dominated by left wing extremists (LWE) in Jharkhand, the right to vote freely and without fear has no meaning. Till date, the ultras in state’s hinterlands decide whom the villagers will vote for.
“Command jisko adesh deyga usko vote deynge (We will vote for that candidate for whom we get the command),” said a villager who identified himself as Mangra Munda from Murhu block of Khunti distrit, around 75 kilometers from the state capital.
“We cannot vote at will. If we do so they (LWEs) will kill us,” said a villager from Beerbanki village in Khunti district. The village is regularly visited by cadres of CPI-Maoist and People Liberation Front of India (PLFI).
In Jharkhand, more than 25 splinter outfits are active in the 22 LWE-affected districts. The state government has banned 17 outfits including CPI-Maoist, TPC, PLFI, TPC-2, Jharkhand Prastuti Committee (JPC), Sangarsh Jan Mukti Morcha, and Jharkhand Jan Mukti Party (JJMP).
Despite heavy deployment of security forces in the state, banned Maoist outfits are managing to conduct meeting with villagers directing them to boycott polls or cast their vote in favour of a particular party leader.
There are reports of several banned outfits holding meetings and giving diktats about whom to vote for in villages of the 13 constituencies — in Latehar, Chatra, Palamu, Garwa and Gumla districts — that will go to polls in the first phase on November 25
For instance, the Tritya Prastuti Committee (TPC) has ordered villages under its dominance to vote for a regional party; RJD leader Janardhan Paswan has filed a complaint with the election commission. Similarly PLFI has also passed its diktats in Khunti, Simdega and Chatra.
Villagers explained that the “jungle party” (Ultras) issue diktats a few days before the elections. “The diktats are given to villagers only a day or two earlier,” said a journalist based out of Gumla.
Sources added that political parties also seek support of the rebels to demotivate other candidates. The splinter outfits, in the area under their dominance, bar the opponents’ campaigning vehicles from entering.
During the Lok Sabha elections, activist Dayamani Barla, who had contested from Khunti, had complained that her campaigning was being targeted by PLFI to promote another political party.
When contacted by Hindustan Times, Jharkhand chief electoral officer PK Jajoria said the poll body would take strict action against “contestants or political parties forcing people to cast votes in their favours with help of ultras”. “Programmes are being held to motivate voters to cast their ballot without the fear of ultras,” he added.
Bara Vikash, senior leader of CPI-Maoist said they not favouring any particular party. “We are against the system. We are asking people to boycott elections,” he said.