Maoists' 'hijack democracy' plot leads to political killings

Around two dozen leaders belonging to the Cong, BJP and even the CPI have been killed by Maoists in 6 years.

Dantewada: The killing of young BJP MLA of Dantewada in Chhattisgarh, Bheema Mandavi, by Naxals on Tuesday has reinforced the intelligence reports that Maoists have revisited their strategy to achieve their goal of grabbing power at the Centre.

Accordingly, the rebels’ age-old strategy to “derail democracy” has given way to “hijack democracy” which called for elimination of non-pliable elected representatives, leading to a spurt in political killings in Chhattisgarh's conflict zone of Bastar.

Under the changed strategy, Maoists have begun to target political parties and leaders, instead of calling for poll boycotts, to ensure that candidates of their choice were elected.

“The new strategy will help the rebels achieve their twin-objective: first, to keep non-pliable political leaders out of elections with their killings and second, to ensure that a candidate of their choice is elected,” Charan Dubey, a Bastar-based expert on Left wing insurgency told this newspaper on Wednesday.

“The shift in the strategy — from derailing democracy to hijacking democracy — by Maoists have given a new dimension to the three-decade-old Left wing insurgency in Bastar, leading to increase in killing of political leaders in the last few years,” the expert said.

Around two dozen leaders belonging to the Congress, BJP and even CPI have been killed by ultras in south Bastar districts of Sukma, Bijapur and Dantewada in the past six years, statistics showed.

The killing of leaders before election, the trend witnessed in insurgency-hit Bastar in Chhattisgarh, was a fallout of the new strategy by Maoists to “manipulate” democracy in order to achieve their goal of grabbing power, experts say.

The slain Dantewada MLA who won last year’s Assembly elections despite opposition to him by Maoist, had earlier escaped several attempts on his life.

At least half-a-dozen leaders were killed ahead of November 2018 Assembly elections.

The campaign parties of Congress candidate for Dantewada seat, Devti Karma, were attacked twice by the ultras a fortnight before the Assembly polls.

Even Devti, widow of slain Congress leader and founder of anti-Naxal civil vigilante force Salwa Judum Mahendra Karma had escaped in one of the two attacks on her campaign teams.

“It is noticed that Maoists no longer intimidate tribals. Rather, they have been instigating their cadres to target political leaders,” Bastar-based veteran journalist Naresh Mishra said.

Incidentally, the BJP had witnessed a large-scale desertion of cadres in south Bastar before 2018 Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh.

The high polling witnessed in the last two Assembly elections in Bastar has rendered the poll boycott call given by Maoists ineffective prompting the ultras to review their strategy, said military psychologist Varnika Sharma who has done her post-doctorate on insurgency. The expert warned of possible violence around the time of declaration of LS poll results on May 23.

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