Naxal fear forces NCP candidates to withdraw from civic polls

NAGPUR: Maharashtra state home minister RR Patil, also guardian minister for Gadchiroli, may have made towering promises of government’s initiative in curbing Naxalism in the affected regions but his party members seemed to be in no mood to invite the wrath of the rebels.

Eight aspiring candidates of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) decided against contesting the civic body elections in Korchi, slated to be held on Sunday and withdrew their nomination form. This has apparently left many party members red-faced as NCP would have no representation in either Zilla Parishad or Panchayat Samittee in Korchi, informed a source. Apart from NCP, it has been learnt that six Shiv Sena candidates also withdrew from the election, leaving none from their banner too, to contest the election. Now, there are around 10 candidates in the fray for two ZP seats and another 17 for four Panchayat Samittee slots in the taluka, where the threat perceptions from Naxals are considered to be high.

Despite the RR-factor, NCP fared poorly in the civic body election, in rest of the district also. While Congress gained five seats in ZP, compared to 14 in the last elections, NCP won only 9. With the Naxal influence spreading fast and development works making no significant progress, it has been learnt that Patil’s popularity and support to his party members too are fast dwindling in the district. After taking over in 2009, Patil could not manage to push back the rebels despite having the home ministry under him, which controlled the security forces. This was exposed when Union Home Minister P Chidambaram made a visit in the district in 2010.

The two Zilla Parishad and four Panchayat Samittee seats election of Korchi seems to have become a challenge for both district administration and security forces, who are taking no chances against the Naxals and are transforming the taluka into a police fortress with a massive deployment. The civic body elections in the other parts of the district have already been completed in two phases in February.

The population of the Korchi taluka had boycotted the polls with the Naxals strongly opposing the election like they did in the rest of the district. The population in this northern Gadchiroli taluka agreed to toe the lines of the district administration and participate in polling after the government officials assured the tribal that their jungles would not be handed over to the private firms for mining.

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