Ranchi: Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda Friday appealed to the Maoists to cooperate in the panchayat elections beginning Saturday as instances have come to light of the rebels forcing people to withdraw their nominations from the polls.
"Panchayat polls are taking place after 32 years and we appeal to strayed people (Maoists) to join the mainstream of society and cooperate in the polls," Munda said in his appeal.
"If Maoists want reforms, then they will not hamper panchayat polls," he added.
There were reports that Maoists, after holding `jan adalats` (people`s courts), had asked candidates to withdraw their nominations from the panchayat polls in Rania block of Khuti district and Manika block of Latehar district among others.
"I wanted to withdraw my nomination due to Maoist threat. I could not do so as the date of withdrawal of nomination had ended," said Devendra Kujur, one of the candidates in Latehar district.
Due to the Maoist threat, over 3,000 candidates have been elected unopposed for different posts in different districts.
Maoists have called for a boycott of the five-phase panchayat polls in Jharkhand that begin Saturday.
"Maoists seem to have adopted two strategies. Officially, Maoists have given a boycott call to reiterate their view that they do not believe in the current democratic system. But unofficially, Maoists are pushing their nominees in the panchayat polls by asking other candidates to withdraw their nominations," a police official said.
Jharkhand is holding the first panchayat elections after it was carved from Bihar. The last polls took place in 1979 when Jharkhand was a region of Bihar. The polls were delayed in Jharkhand due to a legal battle over reservation to tribal people in the scheduled areas (notified tribal areas).