Mizoram polls litmus test for CM Thanhawla
Aizawl: Polling in Mizoram will be held on Wednesday with over 7.70 lakh voters expected to exercise their franchise in the state where Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla is seeking a third consecutive term and the BJP looking to uproot the Congress in its last bastion in the Northeast.
The Congress and the Mizoram National Party (MNF) have ruled Mizoram since 1987 when it became a full-fledged state. Interestingly, no party has been able to form government thrice since that year.
Elections to the 40-member assembly in Mizoram, which has a population of about 10 lakh, is significant for the BJP that considers it to be the 'final frontier' in the region.
In the 2013 elections, the Congress had won 34 seats, while its main opposition, the Mizo National Front (MNF), got five and the Mizoram People's Conference bagged one seat. The Congress and the MNF have fielded 40 candidates each, while the BJP is contesting in 39 seats. The Zoram Peoples Movement (ZPM), an alliance formed by two political parties and four groups, is contesting in 35 seats.
A total of 209 candidates are in fray for the November 28 polls and the fate of the candidates would be decided by 7,70,395 voters, which include 3,94,897 women.
Electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be used in the polling that would begin at 7 am and end at 4 pm.
Ahead of elections, the state witnessed intense protests by civil society groups over the place of voting for 12,026 Bru voters. The issue led to replacement of Chief Electoral Officer SB Shashank in less than two weeks before the polls.
Ashish Kundra, who replaced Shashank, said on Monday that the Election Commission has made extensive preparations for the Brus lodged in six relief camps of Tripura to cast their votes at Kanhmun village in Mamit district where 15 temporary polling stations have been set up. The village is located on the state's border with Tripura.
"The people of Kanhmun village have even erected a welcome gate at the border expressing heartiest welcome to Bru voters," Kundra said.
Campaigning in the state saw paradigm shift this election season with political parties making extensive use of social media platforms like Facebook and Whatsapp to woo young voters. The ruling Congress banked heavily for the elections on its flagship New Land Use Policy (NLUP), which brought the party to power for two consecutive terms.
The campaign had reached its peak in the final week with the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Other prominent leaders who campaigned in the state included Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh, National People's Party (NPP) leader and Meghalaya C Conrad Sangma.