Polling under Maoist shadow

More than six months back, when a mini-bus carrying poll personnel was returning along with EVMs after conducting a peaceful election, around 50 Maoists triggered a landmine blast and opened fire on security forces from adjoining bushes.

Eight people were killed on the spot. The incident, which took place in Asna village of Shikaripara, saw five policemen among those killed.

This attack was the third consecutive Maoist violence incident in the last three elections. The Maoists had gunned down policemen in May 2009 parliamentary polls followed by another similar attack in the 2009 Assembly elections.

Shikaripara, one of the notorious Assembly constituencies of Dumka parliamentary seat, is a 90-minute drive from Dumka, which is represented by Shibu Soren in Lok Sabha and his son Hemant Soren in the outgoing Assembly.

Notwithstanding Maoist attacks, Shikaripara, a reserved seat for Scheduled Tribe (ST), is perceived to be a Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) citadel, from where Shibu’s confidant Nalin Soren has won five times. The reason for his consecutive victories is that out of 1,85,000 voters, 59 per cent electorate are tribals, who treat Shibu Soren, (the Guruji, as he is fondly known in Jharkhand), as a demi-god.

Another significant point is that Shikaripara is the one and only seat out of 81 constituencies, which the BJP has offered to the Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party.

Paswan has fielded Sheodhan Murmu as his nominee while former chief minister Babulal Marandi is banking on veteran local leader Paritosh Soren as the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha candidate.

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