Ranchi: Maoists, "known for their coercive tactics" to keep the voters away from booths in interior areas, could feel the heat from security forces in the Jharkhand assembly polls, political leaders said.
"Gone are the days when naxalites held sway in their areas during elections. Now CRPF camps have been set up in interior areas in the affect-districts like Latehar, Lohardaga and Palamau districts," said former Jharkhand Assembly Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari.
In previous elections, he said, the Maoists' tactics had been to instill fear in the voters by "chopping off" fingers of the first voter in the queue in interiors areas to frighten rest of the people.
Recalling how Saryu area of Latehar district was once "lawless" and polling officials feared to go to such places, Namdhari cautioned that Maoists "may fish in troubled waters if they wish."
Former Union minister and senior Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahay summed up the left-wing extremists as "petty contractors" who give boycott slogans.
But this time the security forces are there to deal with them, he said.
A total 81 seats are spread over 24 districts, 18 of the districts are officially announced naxal-affected while two more districts, Dumka and Pakur, have reported major rebel incidents like killings of Pakur SP Amarjit Balihar in Dumka and Sister Valsha in Pakur.
According to police headquarters as many as 19 naxal outfits are operating in Jharkhand, including the CPI (Maoist) and its splinter groups.
RJD Jharkhand unit President Girinath Singh, who won four times from Garhwa, a naxal stronghold, said he had escaped Maoist attack during 2009 assembly electioneering.
"Five years ago I came under attack from naxalites while campaigning in Garhwa. I escaped by the grace of the God. Things have changed now with security personnel dominating naxal areas," Singh said.