Pushed from the plains and holed up in the hills, the CPI (Maoists) is perhaps fighting its most crucial battle around the 2014 assembly elections, struggling to stay relevant in an increasingly hostile environment.
Besides facing a massive onslaught by security forces, the CPI (Maoists) is also fighting 17 splinter outfits, all of whom are its adversaries.
Like in every election, wall writings, posters and banners of the outfit have appeared in many parts across the state asking the people to stay away from the polls starting November 25.
Even the most fanatical Maoists know that the ritual is losing its sting.
Similar posters had appeared during the Lok Sabha polls in April but results showed a 10-14% rise in voting percentage in Maoist strongholds, something unthinkable a couple of years ago.
The Maoists concede that their challenges have multiplied over the past few years and frequency of attacks on security forces have gone down.
“Despite our dwindling strength, we are fighting prolonged hours with the armed forces in Jharkhand,” CPI (Maoists) spokesperson Deenbandhu said.
Most of the 17 splinter outfits were allegedly raised and being patronised by the state police to neutralise the Maoists, a charge police deny.
Police said the ineffectiveness of the rebels during the last elections polls was due to the successful counter-insurgency operations.
“The credit goes to our valiant soldiers who did not allow the rebels to disrupt polls,” Jharkhand director general of police Rajiv Kumar said.
However, an intelligence official not authorised to speak to media, said overground cadres are contesting elections these days. Besides, they are also influencing voters in favour of candidates.
State electoral office P K Jajoria said they have sought public support for information about candidates who are engaging rebels to influence voters.