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Mizoram polls: 36 per cent votes cast in first four hours

Nov 25, 2013 08:17 AM IST Politics Politics

Aizawl: Voting has begun in Mizoram on Monday to decide the fate of 142 candidates vying for 40 seats. In the first four hours, 36 per cent votes were cast.

It's a face-off between the ruling Congress and the MNF and its allies.

Chief Minister Pu Lalthanhawla of the Congress and all his 11 ministers are among 142 candidates who will be contesting for the 40-member Assembly election. For the first time in the country, voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) system will be used in this election in a larger scale, in 10 constituencies.

It was first experimented in an Assembly bypoll in Nagaland in September. The VVPAT is a machine attached to EVMs which allows voters to check if their votes are cast the way they wished.

All the seats in Mizoram are reserved for ST nominees, except Lunglei South which is for general candidates.

Both the ruling Congress and the opposition Mizoram Democratic Alliance (MDA) comprising MNF, Mizoram People's Conference and Maraland Democratic Alliance have fielded candidates in all the 40 seats.

Lalthanhawla is contesting from two constituencies - Serchhip, his home turf, and neighbouring Hrangturzo and Opposition MNF leader and former chief minister Zoramthanga (MNF) is trying his luck from Tuipui East bordering Myanmar.

Speaker R Romawia and Deputy Speaker Johalso are in the fray from Aizawl North-I and Mamit seats respectively.

The Congress which had won 32 seats in 2008 has fielded 31 of the sitting MLAs. Only Nirupam Chakma was replaced by BD Chakma, chief executive member of the Chakma Autonomous District Council.

There are six women candidates -- three fielded by the BJP, one each by Congress and MNF and one rebel MNF candidate.

There are 6,90,860 voters and 1,126 polling stations in the state, of which 94, mostly in border areas, have been identified as 'critical' where security has been beefed up.

An additional 31 companies of central para-military forces and police from neighbouring states have been deployed for the polls besides seven armed battalions of the state police to ensure free and fair election.

Security along the Manipur border from where militants from the neighbouring state might enter the state was tightened as along the unfenced 64 km border near the tri-junction of Mizoram-Tripura-Bangladesh in Mamit district.

Not a single incident of violence was reported during electioneering in the state.

Of the 40 candidates fielded by the MNF, MDA which is a senior partner of the MDA, is contesting in 31 seats, the MPC and the MDF have fielded candidates in eight and one constituencies respectively.

Other contesting parties are Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP, 38 seats), BJP (17), NCP (2) and Jai Maha Bharath Party (1). There are four independent candidates.

The portfolios and the names of ministers in the fray are Home Minister R Lalzirliana, Finance Minister H Liansailova, Tourism Minister S Hiato, Transport Minister P C Zoram Sangliana, Revenue Minister J H Rothuama, Education Minister Lalsawta, Health Minister Lalrinliana Sailo, Sports Minister Zodintluanga, Environment and Forests Minister H Rohluna, Minister of State for Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Nihar Kanti Chakma and MoS for Social Welfare P C Lalthanliana.

MPC president Lalhmangaiha Sailo, son of former chief minister Brig T Sailo, is contesting from Aizawl East I and ZNP chief Lalduhawma is fighting from his home turf Aizawl West II and Kolasib on Mizoram-Assam border.

(With additional information from PTI)