INDIA'S FORGOTTEN WAR – blogging naxalism.

Posts Tagged ‘Phase 2 Indian Election

Election Numbers- Did the Maoists Matter?

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Apparently not, according to preliminary polling data from Jharkhand.

Voter turnout was higher in the regions considered Maoist strongholds, whereas some places with little rebel presence recorded lower polling percentage.

Initial figures show that polling percentage in the eight Lok Sabha seats varied between 42 and 58 percent as people braved Maoist violence as well as the mercury soaring to 42-46 degree Celsius in various parts.

I haven’t found anything which supports these numbers, but it does seem that there was minimal disruption by the Naxalites. There were a few scattered attacks on Wednesday and another yesterday, but overall Phase II was more tranquil than I had expected.  The killer heatwave gripping much of the country undoubtedly did more to dampen voter enthusiasm than any other factor.

Update: According to the Hindu, overall turnout for Phase II was 55%. Higher than in 2004.

Post-Election Decompression

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No updates for the next day or two. I’m taking a break after a marathon session.

I started India’s Forgotten War earlier this week as my first foray into blogging (about four years two late!). I’m happy with the results so far. Considering how much of a minority interest Naxalism is, it’s amazing  how many hits I’ve had. I hope you come by often to see the blog develop and grow. Thanks everyone!

Written by Michael

April 23, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Indian Election Phase II

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UPDATE: Polling in Bihar “peaceful“.

UPDATE: Various skirmishes in polling areas. The Times of India reports that there have been numerous gunbattles between Maoists and the police and bomb attacks on election officials in Jhrakhand. Also some reports of violence in Orissa and Andhra.

UPDATE: A Naxalite landmine has been defused by police. The mine was buried under an electoral boycott banner at a polling station in Madhya Pradesh.

UPDATE: The chart disaggregates rural/urban turnout in major states during the last election. Unfortunately, most of the heavily Naxal affected states aren’t included. I’m curious to see what impact, if any, their call for an electoral boycott has had on rural voters. A decline in the percentages would underscore the insurgents strength. If voting turnout isn’t significantly affected, it would suggest that the the string of high profile attacks amount to little more than a bit of good media PR.

Turnout: Urban versus rural constituencies in 2004
Major State Turnout in urban
constituencies (%)
Turnout in rural
constituencies (%)
Turnout in entire
state (%)
Andhra Pradesh 60 72 69.9
Bihar 55 58 57.9
Gujarat 38 48 45.2
Karnataka 54 67 64.9
Kerala 68 72 71.5
Madhya Pradesh 48 47 48.1
Maharashtra 46 56 54.4
Orissa 69 67 66
Rajasthan 50 48 49.9
Uttar Pradesh 42 48 48.2
Tamil Nadu 54 63 60.8
West Bengal 75 79 78.2
Year of Lok Sabha
Election
Turnout in Urban
constituencies (%)
Turnout in Rural
constituencies (%)
All India
turnout (%)
2004 54 59 58
Source: http://www.pib.nic.in

Update: The BBC has a great interactive map of the election. What’s interesting is that half of Andhra Pradesh is voting today. Until a few years ago the state was the heart of Naxalite activity in the country. I haven’t heard of a single attack anywhere in the state since the beginning of the election. The hub of the so-called ‘red corrider’ has shifted to Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Elements of the Andhra government’s approach to counter-insurgency (raising and effectively training the anti-Naxalite Greyhound police force coupled with strong financial incentives for fighters wishing to quite the movement) sh0uld be emulated. I was in Warangal district (Andhra Pradesh) in 2008 and met with the district police commander. She had nothing but contempt for the Salwa Judum and Chhattisgarh’s ‘civilian’ militias.

Update: First reports of Maoist disruptions. Ongoing gun battle after a CRPF camp was attacked in West Singhbum, Jharkhand. Train station bombed in Palamau, also in Jharkhand.

Polls in phase 2 of the Indian election opened 30 minutes ago.

I found a UPI story on yesterday’s train hijacking claiming that the Naxalites were, “protest[ing] over some former Maoists participating in India’s general elections”.

Interesting. I interpreted the highjacking as a show of strength. Maybe it wasn’t. Also wondering who or what faction has jumped into legal politics. UPDATE: Could it be the 3000 ex-Maoists who joined the Prajarajyam Party (PP) in February? The hijack took place in Jhrkhand and the PP is based in Andhra. Maybe not?

Phase II

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Phase II of the election is less than 24 hours away. Reports are coming in of two Naxalite actions in the polling areas. A train has been highjacked by around a hundred guerillas in Jharkhand. Over 700 hundred people are being held hostage. A block development office has been blown up and a truck driver killed in a series of co-ordinated attacks in neighbouring Gaya and Aurangabad districts in Bihar.

I have a feeling that this is just the beginning of a bloody two days.

UPDATE:
Maoists have melted back into the jungle and released all of the hostages unharmed. Why? Well it seems there are two reasons:

A Maoist spokesman, Gopal, told the BBC: “This was a symbolic gesture, no intention to cause harm to passengers and anyway it is very hot here.”

Heh. Cheeky. Who knew that Maoists were could be so sardonic caustic (note to self: verify meaning of big words that I use to sound clever).