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Polling in the first phase of the Chhattisgarh assembly election began at 7 am on Monday in eight districts affected by Naxalism in the state. Polling in the state will be held in two phases over 90 constituencies with the first phase being held under the shadow of Naxal warnings and a flurry of attacks.
Naxal outfits have given calls for a boycott of the election and have executed over half-a-dozen attacks in the last 15 days, three of the major ones which left 13 people dead, including a video journalist of national broadcaster Doordarshan who was covering the election campaign. Both the BJP and Congress have been intensely campaigning in the state with top leadership from both parties, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, addressing a series of rallies to woo the voters.
According to police, escorting polling parties to their destinations and bringing them back after the polls pose a great challenge in the Naxal hotbed. “Around one lakh security personnel, including central paramilitary force, have been deployed to ensure peaceful polling in the first phase,” Chhattisgarh’s Special Director General (anti-Naxal operations) D M Awasthi told PTI. Air Force choppers have also been pressed into service.
The election in the second phase will be held on November 20.