Although they proclaim elections as a farce, Maoists are backing relatives and friends in Jharkhand’s first panchayat polls since the state was formed 10 years ago.
The Special Branch of the state police reckons Maoists are supporting their candidates in almost all 24 districts of the state in the five-phase elections being held from November 27 till December 16.
Not only are they backing candidates, the ultras are also exhorting people to vote — as witnessed by a high 68 per cent turnout in the first round of polling three days ago.
“We are aware the rebels have fielded several dummy candidates, besides canvassing strongly for their near and dear ones in the ongoing polls,” additional director general of police GS Rath said. Rath felt the Maoists might be seeking to pocket some of the funds given to panchayats for development purposes.
Maoist-affected Latehar district’s superintendent of police Kuldip Dwivedi doesn’t agree. “Once elected, Maoists and non-Maoists would be under tremendous pressure to deliver — failing which the people will teach them a lesson,” he said.
For chief minister Arjun Munda, Maoist participation in the polls is a shot in the arm. “If you want reforms, you will not disrupt the polls,” he urged the Maoists.
Candidates backed by Maoists are not apologetic about their links with the rebels.
“My husband works for the poor,” said aspiring mukhiya Phoolbasia Devi, 42, wife of Patther Singh, the supreme commander of a Maoist-backed outfit. She said rapid development of her panchayat is her only agenda.