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81 per cent turnout in peaceful polling in Mizoram

Last updated on: November 25, 2013 20:53 IST

The fate of 142 candidates, including Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla and his 11 ministers, was sealed in Electronic Voting Machines as 81 per cent polling was witnessed on Monday in the election to the 40-member Mizoram Assembly which passed off peacefully.

Polling ended at 3.30 pm with an estimated turnout of 80 per cent of the 6.9 lakh voters, state Joint Chief Electoral Officer H Lalengmawia said.

He said that the percentage of turnout could rise after data is received from remote areas. The polling percentage was over 80 per cent in three seats adjoining Manipur -- Chalfilh, Tuivawl and Serlui, where there were allegations of insurgents intimidating voters, Lalengmawia said.

The ruling Congress fielded candidates in all the 40 seats and the Mizoram Democratic Alliance, the alliance of Opposition Mizo National Front, the Mizoram People's Conference and the Maraland Democratic Alliance also contested in 40 seats.

The MNF, senior partner of the alliance contested 31 seats, while the MPC and the MDF fielded candidates in eight and one constituency respectively.

The Zoram Nationalist Party contested in 38 seats, the BJP in 17, the Nationalist Congress Party in two seats, Jai Maha Bharath Party in one while there were four Independents.

All the seats were reserved for Scheduled Tribe nominees, except Lunglei South which was for general candidates. Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla cast his vote with his wife Lal Riliani at Zarkawt-II Polling Station at Babutlang area in Zarkawt locality.

The chief minister contested from two constituencies --Serchhip, his home turf, and neighbouring Hrangturzo.

Speaking to reporters after casting his vote, Lal Thanhawla said, "I have high hopes that we will retain power with a thumping majority by bagging the same number of seats (32) if not more," he said.

The people, he said, wanted the Congress to be in power for development work and in running a clean government. MNF leader and former chief minister Zoramthanga  contested from the Tuipui East seat on the Mizoram-Myanmar border.

For the first time, a voter-verifiable paper audit trail system was used in 10 constituencies. It was first experimented with in an Assembly bypoll in Nagaland in September.

The Congress, which had won 32 seats in 2008, fielded 31 of the sitting members of Legislative Assembly. Only Nirupam Chakma was replaced by B D Chakma, chief executive member of the Chakma Autonomous District Council.

There were six women candidates -- three fielded by the Bharatiya Janata Party, one each by Congress and MNF and one rebel MNF candidate. Like in earlier elections, the churches in Mizoram including the Presbyterian Church of India Mizoram Synod, the Baptist Church of Mizoram and also the Mizoram Kohhran Hruaitute Committee issued poll messages listing out dos and don'ts.

The church's election watchdog, the Mizoram People's Forum was instrumental in keeping the election campaign extremely low profile while polling was also a low-key affair.

The diktats of the MPF, more stringent than the guidelines of the Election Commission, restricted candidates, campaigners and party workers while door-to-door canvassing was completely prohibited since November 15.

An additional 31 companies of central para-military forces and state police of neighbouring states were deployed for the polls besides the seven armed battalions of the state police.

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