Mizoram witnesses peaceful voting

Mizoram witnesses peaceful voting

People wait to caste their vote at a polling booth in Mizoram.

Fate of 209 candidates contesting to form a new Assembly in Mizoram was sealed on Thursday.

As many as 80% voters exercised their franchise till 5 pm.

The entire exercise was peaceful, a rarity seen in rest of the Northeast, and civil society organisations worked hand-in-hand with Election Commission.

Ashish Kundra, chief electoral officer of Mizoram, described this as 'a unique case of partnership' for free and fair polls.

"From welcoming voters to making seating arrangements and arranging food for Bru refugee voters at Kahnmun village in Mamit district, civil society organisations like Young Mizo Association displayed exemplary partnership for a free, fair and peaceful elections. Mizoram is a shinning example of partnership for rest of the country," Kundra said at Aizawl, the state's capital.

Polling percentage decreased when compared to the 2013 Assembly elections— it was 83.41% then.

Only 56.46% of the 11, 987 Bru refugee voters cast their votes in 15 polling stations set up at Kahnmun village in South Mizoram.

They travelled about 65 to 70-km from the six relief camps in neighbouring Tripura, where they have been living since the 1997 ethnic conflict.

Polling began at 7 am amid tight security in sensitive pockets and with hope of high turnouts.

By 9 am, 15% voters turned up, the number was nearly 50% by 1 pm.

More than 65% polling was reported by 3.30 pm.

Serchip recorded the highest voter turnout of 81% followed by Kolasib and Lunglei (77%), Champhai (74%) and Aizawl (65%).

Chief of Mizo National Front (MNF) and two time chief minister (1998-2008) Zoramthanga, a resident of Ramhlun Venglei in Aizawl, was among the early voters to have exercised their franchise.

"We are going to come back. The Congress will lose because of its failure to deliver in the past 10 year," he said.

After casting his vote, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla exuded confidence that he would hold the Congress's last fort in the Northeast and would form the new government with an absolute majority.

Since Mizoram came into being in 1987, the elections have been a straight fight between the Congress and the MNF.

The BJP, which has set its sight to make the Northeast 'Congress-mukt' (Free from the Congress) by wresting power in Mizoram, is contesting in 39 of the 40 seats.

This led the Congress to make a charge that BJP and the MNF are in 'a secret understanding' to form a coalition government like it did in the Christian-majority Meghalaya and Nagaland, earlier this year.

Counting of votes would be conducted on December 11.