MALKANGIRI: The Maoists will call the shots, literally, in this panchayat elections. Contrary to adopting the violent recourse to vitiate the poll process, the rebels, this time would be selecting candidates for the panchayat elections, filing of nominations for which will begin on January 7.
If sources are to be believed this would be for the first time that the political parties will have no role in candidates’ selection. More than 50 panchayats in the Maoist hotbeds of Malkangiri and Koraput districts would go for elections in February.
Police sources said many supporters, sympathisers and also members of the banned outfit are likely to join the fray for the posts of sarpanches, ward and samiti members from Badural, Madkapadar, Andrahal, Salimi, Badpadar, Papermetla, Jodamba, Panasput, Nakamamudi, Ralegada, Badapada, Manyamkonda, Kangurkonda, Materu, Niliguda and Telrai panchayats in Malkangiri district and Majhiput, Bodaput, Kathapada, Kollar, Chipakur, Dandabadi, Ramgiri, Haladikund and Doraguda panchayats under Boipariguda block in Koraput district, bordering Malkangiri.
Conducting panchayat polls in the Maoist strongholds has posed a serious challenge to the police and the district administration over the years. They had gunned down Ramgiri block BJD president Nrusingh Charan Panda at his residence on September 25, 2010.
The direct involvement of Maoists in the polls, however, would mean peaceful elections at least in the areas where Maoists have a strong presence, sources said.
Security experts described it as a ‘strategy’ of the Maoists to prevent the entry of forces to their strongholds for joint combing operation.
The rebels, in a series of meetings held at several remote and interior pockets of Malkangiri and Koraput recently, selected more than a dozen candidates in the two districts much ahead of the scheduled date for filing of nominations, sources said.
According to sources, most of the Maoist-supported candidates are likely to contest from areas where they have strong presence. If the ultras, their supporters and sympathisers enter the fray for the election to local bodies, then it is a good sign for democracy, said a top police official on condition of anonymity. The Government should encourage the ultras to join the democratic process at the grassroots level as part of its efforts to “bring the Maoists into the mainstream of society,” he said.
If the Maoists end up selecting the candidates _ directly or indirectly _ the results are nothing but clear. The candidates would win unopposed.