New Delhi: Nearly 80 percent polling stations in Naxal-hit Bastar Lok Sabha constituency in Chhattisgarh have been designated as "highly sensitive", leading to the deployment of more than 25,000 security personnel to ensure peaceful polling on Thursday.
Security forces are keeping strict vigil over Bastar constituency as Maoists have planted hundreds of landmines to disturb the election process, a Home Ministry official said.
"Of the 1,797 polling booths in Bastar, 1,407 are deemed highly sensitive," the official said, adding, "We have deployed more than 25,000 securitymen to ensure peaceful polling."
Altogether 238 polling booths have been relocated for security reasons.
There are 12,98,971 voters in Bastar Lok Sabha constituency and the geographical area of the undivided Bastar district is similar to Kerala.
Home Ministry has given special instructions for strict vigil during the polling as there were 190 violent incidents on the polling days in Naxal affected states during 2009 General Elections.
Twenty-four people, including some security personnel, were killed on the polling days in Naxal-hit areas in 2009.
Six helicopters are being used to ferry 153 polling teams in Bastar due to security reasons.
Eight candidates including AAP`s Soni Sori, who was arrested for her alleged links with Naxals, are in the fray.
BJP has fielded Dinesh Kashyap, while the Congress candidate is Deepak Karma, whose father Mahendra Karma was killed in a Maoist attack, which also claimed lives of nearly 30 others, before Chhattisgarh Assembly polls in May 2013.
In the previous election, the contest was mainly between two major political parties - Congress and BJP.
But this time, AAP candidate, Soni Sori, a tribal teacher from Dantewada region, has made the contest an interesting one. She may gain support from remote areas.
The other candidates in fray are: Manbodh Baghel (BSP), Shankar Ram Thakur (SP), Vimla Sori (CPI), Devchand Dhruv (CPI (ML) and Arjun Singh Thakur (Ambedkarite Party of India).
The state has 11 Lok Sabha seats. Rajnandgaon, Mahasamund and Kanker would witness polling on April 17. Sarguja, Raigarh, Janggir-Chhapa, Korba, Bilaspur, Durg and Raipur would go to polls on April 24.