Polling ends in Mizoram with 70 percent turnout (Second lead)

December 2nd, 2008 - 7:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Aizawl, Dec 2 (IANS) Voting to elect a new government in the northeastern state of Mizoram ended peacefully Tuesday with about 70 percent people exercising their franchise.According to preliminary reports, the voting percentage is about 70 with polling ending peacefully, said Lalhmingthanga, the joint chief electoral officer.

Voters in large numbers queued up well before voting opened at 7 a.m. Polling ended at 4 p.m. The ballots will be counted Dec 8. The poll will decide the electoral fate of 313 candidates, including 31 women and 64 independents.

An estimated 611,124 voters, including 308,884 women, were eligible to exercise their franchise. Political parties also expressed their happiness over the heavy turnout of voters and peaceful elections.

The Mizoram People’s Forum (MPF), social wing of the Presbyterian Church, set up makeshift stalls in front of the 1,026 polling stations to help voters find their names on the electoral rolls.

Ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) supremo and chief minister Zoramthanga could not cast his vote at Chaltlang in the outskirts of the capital town Aizawl as he was camping in Champhai from where he is contesting on two seats - Champhai North and Champhai South.

The Reang tribal refugee voters, who have been living in six camps in northern Tripura and two in Mizoram for the past 11 years, cast their ballots Nov 28 and 29.

About 9,000 poll officials were deployed to conduct the elections.

Tuesday’s vote would decide the fate of Chief Minister Zoramthanga, state Congress chief Lalthanhawla and Brig. T. Sailo of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and a host of top leaders of various parties.

Lalthanhawla and Sailo, a World War II veteran, are the chief ministerial candidates of their respective parties.

The fight for political supremacy in Mizoram is between the ruling (Mizo National Front) MNF, the main opposition Congress party, and the newly formed UDA, a conglomeration of various regional parties.

The ruling MNF is contesting 39 seats leaving one seat to its pre-poll partner, the Mara Democratic Front (MDF).

The opposition Congress is contesting all the 40 seats, while union minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has fielded candidates in 38 seats.

The UDA, an alliance of Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) and the Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP), is contesting 39 seats.

The BJP has put up candidates in nine seats and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has fielded candidates in six seats.

In the last assembly elections held in 2003, the ruling MNF secured 21 seats while Congress bagged 12 and seven went to other smaller parties.

Tuesday’s poll is the sixth assembly election since Mizoram attained statehood in February 1987. Results will be declared Dec 8.

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