Counting of votes begins in Mizoram

December 8th, 2008 - 10:00 am ICT by IANS  

Aizawl, Dec 8 (IANS) Counting of votes for the Mizoram assembly elections began Monday with the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) exuding confidence of retaining power for the third straight term.”Counting of votes began at 8 a.m. and we expect all the results by afternoon,” an election official said.

The vote will decide the fate of 206 candidates, including nine women and 33 independents. Elections to the 40-member legislature were held Dec 2 with more than 80 percent of the 611,124 electorate voting.

“We have absolutely no doubt of getting an absolute majority,” Chief Minister Zoramthanga told IANS. The MNF is banking on the theme of stability and good governance.

“All these years we provided a stable and clean government with Mizoram among the few northeastern states where there is absolute peace,” he said.

The stocky Zoramthanga was a former separatist leader and was the second-in-command of the MNF that surrendered en masse in 1986 after waging a 20-year guerrilla war against the Indian government.

The MNF later became a political party after the Mizo accord of 1986.

Despite Zoramthanga’s optimism, the fight for political supremacy this time is expected to be a triangular one with the other two main players being the main opposition Congress party and the and the newly formed United Democratic Alliance (UDA), a conglomeration of regional parties.

“People have voted for change as they are fed up with the 10-year misrule of the MNF government,” said Lalthanhawla, a former chief minister and leader of the Congress party.

Political analysts feel Mizoram will get a fractured mandate this time, with the MNF bound to face a strong anti-incumbency factor.

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