Voting for Mizoram assembly elections begins

December 2nd, 2008 - 10:17 am ICT by IANS  

Aizawl, Dec 2 (IANS) Polling for the assembly elections in the northeastern state of Mizoram began Tuesday morning amid tight security, officials said. “People in large numbers queued up in front of polling stations well before voting opened at 7 a.m. Voting ends at 4 p.m,” said Lalhmingthanga, the joint chief electoral officer.

In all, 611,124 people, including 308,884 women, are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 206 candidates, including nine women and 33 independents.

“The Election Commission has put in place 1,098 electronic voting machines (EVMs) in all the 1,026 polling stations across the state,” the election official said.

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

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

Besides Zoramthanga, Lalthanhawla and Sailo are the chief ministerial candidates of their respective parties.

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

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

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 of the elections are expected Dec 8.

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