Maoists have been known for routinely giving poll boycott calls but in a curious move, they are now appealing to villagers to vote against Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP to ensure it doesn’t return to power. The move has stunned the experts. The Bihar Maoists have made this appeal through posters pasted in rural pockets of the state.

Police conducting search operations against the rebels ahead of the Lok Sabha elections were surprised when they stumbled upon many such posters pasted on walls, school buildings and trees in the rural pockets and exhorting the masses to vote against the BJP. Such posters have been found in the Maoist-affected Banke Bazar areas in Gaya and Jamui districts.

“The BJP is benefitting only the industrialist and capitalist forces and must be uprooted from power,” the Maoists wrote in the posters, as per informed sources.

What has surprised the authorities is that this is for the first time that the rebels have appealed to the villagers to defeat any particular party in the elections. As such, the rebels have been giving the calls for poll boycotts but this time they are appealing the masses to vote against the BJP. The development indicates how the rebels have subtly changed their political ideology and expressed their faith in the country’s democratic system which they mocked earlier, experts say. Police link the surfacing of such posters with the continuing drive of the security forces against the rebels in Bihar and Jharkhand.

A senior police official associated with the anti-Maoist operation said the rebels are angry at the continuing operation against the rebels which saw several top ranking Maoists either killed or getting surrendered before the police. Not only that, the police and the Enforcement Directorate have confiscated the property of several top Maoist leaders in Bihar and Jharkhand, such as Praduman Sharma, Sandeep Yadav alias Vijay Yadav, Vinay yadav, Musafir Sahni and Anil Ram which have apparently angered the rebels.

“Previously, the same set of Maoists had asked the voters to stay away from the poll process and even issued threats to chop off hands of those who rush to the polling booths and cast their votes. But this time they are urging the masses to join the poll process and vote against the BJP. This is remarkable shift in the ideology of the Maoists which means they are battling for survival. Never in the past had they asked villagers to vote against any party,” said a social scientist Sachindra Narayan.

Gaya, along with Aurangabad, Nawada, Jehanabad, Arwal, Jamui, Lakhisarai and Bhojpur are considered the stronghold of Maoists where they have carried out dozens of massacres in the past. Of them, the four Lok Sabha constituencies, such as Gaya, Nawada, Aurangabad and Jamui go to polls in the first phase on 11 April and hence surfacing of such posters has worried the authorities.