Umerkote votes, pooh-poohs Red threats

Umerkote: The fate of the three candidates has been sealed in the electronic voting machines. The polling for the by-poll was incident free and preliminary estimates said that the constituency witnessed heavy to moderate polling in all the 162 booths. Though the result would be announced on December 4 one thing became obvious today. The Maoists who had asked the voters to stay away from voting especially for the BJD candidate Subhas Gond were the clear loosers. For, voters in large numbers including women and old voters stood in large queues in front of the booths much before polling began around eight O`clock in the morning.

The constituency had a total of 1,65,007 number of voters. Out of 162 booths, the election commission had announced 67 booths as sensitive due to the presence of Maoist guerrillas. The Maoists too had urged the voters to refrain from voting and had asked not to vote for the BJD candiate and threatened that the voters could do so at the cost off chopped off hands. But ridiculing the Maoist threats voters took active participation in the polling. Election commission sources indicated that over all poll percentage hovered over seventy. While Raighar segment recorded 68 per cent polling, it was 63 and 79 per cent respectively in Umerkote NAC and Umerkote Rural areas.

It was apprehended that after the suspicion of Maoist hand behind the killling of Jagabandhu Majhi, the former BJD MLA whose death necessitated the by-poll, Umerkote voters would oblige the red ultras and refrain from voting. The election commission too had made elaborate security bandobust in all the boots while special arrangements were made for the Maoist affected booths. While SOG jawans marched on the streets, CRPF and other para-military personnel were pressed into service along with state police forces to guard the booths."We had to remain on our toes constantly," said Soumendra Priyadarshi, DIG, South-Western Range.