NEW DELHI: Maoist rebels killed 14 people in two poll-related blasts Saturday in an insurgency-hit region of central India, police said, highlighting security worries in the nation’s marathon election.
Six polling team officials were killed when Maoists blew up their bus in the state of Chhattisgarh, senior police officer Gurjinder Pal Singh told AFP.
“The Maoists triggered the land mine blasts,” Singh, a key official in ensuring election security in the state, told AFP.
Five security men engaged in an election safety operation and another victim were killed in a separate land mine blast that created a huge crater in the road.
The men were blown up near Darbha, where Maoists massacred the top leadership of the Congress Party of Chhattisgarh last May.
Meanwhile, a new book by a former aide to India’s prime minister has caused a political stir during ongoing national elections by suggesting the outgoing leader was never fully in charge of his government.
In “The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh,” author Sanjaya Baru says he wants to offer readers a personal look into the challenges the country’s top technocrat faced trying to lead a coalition for the dynastic Congress Party.
Singh’s office slammed the book, saying it “smacks of fiction and colored views of a former adviser” gathered during the first five of Singh’s 10 years in office.
“It is an attempt to misuse a privileged position and access to high office to gain credibility and to apparently exploit it for commercial gain,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement Friday.
Baru was Singh’s media adviser from 2004 to 2008, and says his book does not deal with Singh’s second term, which began in 2009.
The book’s release — amid an election campaign marked by vitriolic attacks between candidates — was immediately seized on by the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, which has presented Narendra Modi, the leader of Gujarat state, as its prime ministerial candidate.
“I have been saying from Day One that the PM presides and madam decides,” BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said Friday, when the day’s campaign drama centered on Modi and his failure over years to acknowledge his wife in election affidavits.