Stage set for Mizoram assembly polls Tuesday (Curtain raiser)

December 1st, 2008 - 4:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Aizawl, Dec 1 (IANS) The northeastern state of Mizoram goes to polls Tuesday with the fight for political supremacy expected to be a triangular one.The battle lines are drawn with the fight for the 40-member state legislature likely to be between the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), main opposition Congress party, and the newly formed United Democratic Alliance (UDA), a conglomeration of various regional parties.

“With the MNF led by chief minister Zoramthanga fighting an anti-incumbency factor against its 10-year rule, the main opposition Congress and the third front UDA are making a desperate attempt for power,” said Lalthuama Sailo, a political analyst.

In all 206 candidates, including nine women aspirants, are in the fray with voting opening at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Results are expected Dec 8.

“As things stand now, no single party has emerged as the frontrunner,” T Zothansanga, a retired educationist, told IANS.

Among the notable candidates for Tuesday’s election are Chief Minister Zoramthanga, who is contesting from two assembly constituencies - Champhai north and Champhai south, state Congress chief Lalthanhawla and Brig T. Sailo of the UDA.

Lalthanhawla and Sailo are the chief ministerial candidates of their respective outfits.

The run up to the polls was low key with most political parties resorting to small meetings and taking the help of mobile phones to send out text messages seeking votes.

Vigil along the 800-km long international border with Myanmar and Bangladesh has been tightened. “Security forces are on maximum alert,” said police spokesman L Hrangnawn.

More than 60 percent of the 1,026 polling stations have been classified as hyper-sensitive or sensitive.

The union home ministry has sent five additional companies of central paramilitary forces. 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 NCP has fielded candidates in six seats.

Of the total 611,124 voters eligible to exercise their franchise in the elections, 308,884 are women and 302,240 men.

The church-sponsored Mizoram People’s Forum (MPF), an umbrella of NGOs, has issued a ‘code of conduct’ for parties and candidates to follow during the elections.

The church diktat led to low key electioneering in Mizoram.

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

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