2L force, thousands of vehicles, dozen choppers for LS polls


New Delhi: More than two lakh gun-toting paramilitary personnel, thousands of vehicles and nearly a dozen helicopters will be deployed across the country to ensure smooth and violence-free elections beginning April 7.

During the nine-phased polls, spread over nearly two months, the Home Ministry has chalked out the deployment plan for 543 constituencies having a total electorate of 81.4 crore with the special focus on violence-hit states.

“It is a massive exercise. But we will ensure peaceful polling. We are also taking special measures for Naxal- affected states, Jammu and Kashmir and Northeast,” Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry, MA Ganapathy said.

The two lakh paramilitary personnel along with vehicles are being requisitioned from forces like CRPF, BSF, ITBP, SSB and Assam Rifles for deployment across the country. Home Ministry will press into service more than 100 trains to transport paramilitary forces for deployment during the elections.

In this mammoth exercise, the trains will be used for the swift movement of forces from one state to another according to the election schedule and security considerations. Railways has been requested to provide two sleeper coaches for each company (around 100 personnel) and two coaches with special trains instead of general coaches for the smooth mobilisation of troops.

The hired trains will be used for long-distance transportation of forces while, for shorter distances, security personnel will travel by road. Thousands of private vehicles will also be requisitioned to ferry the forces.

Nearly a dozen helicopters will also be deployed in each phase of Lok Sabha polls. But since no BSF Mi-17 helicopters are serviceable, the entire requirement will have to be met through Indian Air Force choppers.

Helicopters are the most important force multiplier when it comes to rushing in reinforcements or taking out casualties and injured persons during operations.

Home Ministry has identified 33 worst Naxal-affected districts as being very sensitive with the highest number of incidents having been reported in these areas in Lok Sabha elections in 2004 and 2009 and also during Assembly polls in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013. The districts are Khunti, Gumla, Latehar, Simdega, West Singhbhum, Ranchi, Dumka, Giridih, Palamu, Garhwa, Chatra, Lohardaga and Bokaro (all Jharkhand). Bastar, Bijapur, Sukma, Dantewada, Kanker, Narayanpur, Kondagaon and Rajnandgaon (all Chhattisgarh), Aurangabad, Gaya, Jamui, Muzaffarpur and Lakhisarai (all in Bihar). The Odisha districts are Malkangiri, Koraput, Nuapada and Bolangir, in Maharashtra it is Gadchiroli along with Vishakhapatnam and Khammam districts in Andhra Pradesh.

The high-stake Lok Sabha elections will be held between April 7 and May 12 on nine dates, the highest number of phases for general elections so far.

Counting of votes for all 543 constituencies will be done on May 16.

As the Lok Sabha polls unfold, Assembly elections will also be held simultaneously in Andhra Pradesh, including in the Telangana region, Odisha, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.