Aizawl, Brisk polling is underway in Mizoram with nearly 25 per cent of 7.68 lakh voters casting their votes in the first three hours on Wednesday, an official said.
Men and women dressd in traditional attires were seen queued up outside the many polling stations in all districts well before voting began at 7 a.m.
Around 25 per cent of the 7,68,181 voters cast their votes by 10 a.m., Deputy Additional Chief Electoral Officer C.C. Lalchhuangkina told IANS over the phone quoting reports from all eight districts.
“Conducive situation and favourable weather helped the people to exercise their franchise smoothly,” he added.
“Except for a few EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines)- VVPAT (Voters Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) device malfunctioning, no untoward incident was reported so far.
“Like previous elections, polling was absolutely peaceful. As Mizo society is very disciplined and Church guided, electioneering has always been incident-free in the state,” he said.
The nine-hour long polling would draw to a close at 4 p.m.
Bordered with Myanmar (510 km) and Bangladesh (318 km), mountainous Mizoram is the Congress’ last bastion among the eight Northeastern states
The ruling Congress led by incumbent Chief Minister and state party chief Lal Thanhawla is determined for a third consecutive term against a stiff challenge mounted by the main opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) headed by former Chief Minister Zoramthanga.
Both the Congress and MNF have fielded candidates to all the 40 Assembly constituencies.
The Congress has been in power, except for 10 years, since Mizoram became a full-fledged state in 1987. The MNF, a constituent of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), ruled during those 10 years — 1998-2003 and 2003-2008.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is also trying to make its presence felt in the last non-saffron party dominated state and fielded 39 candidates, its highest ever.
Many regional parties have fielded candidates in most of the 40 seats. They include People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM), Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and Meghalaya’s dominant ruling party National People’s Party (NPP).
Like the previous polls, women voters once again outnumbered the men in Mizoram. There are 3,93,685 women and 3,74,496 men and they will decide the fate of 209 candidates, 15 of whom are women.
The Election Commission has set up 15 special polling stations at Kanhmun, a village along the Mizoram-Tripura border, to facilitate voting by Reang tribal refugees, sheltered in Tripura for the past 21 years.
Of the over 35,000 tribal immigrants, 11,232 are eligible to cast their votes in this election.
“In view of the Assembly polls, the BSF (Border Security Force) and Assam Rifles troopers have been asked to further tighten the security along Mizoram’s borders with Bangladesh and Myanmar to prevent any kind of cross-border movements by inimical elements,” Mizoram’s Joint Chief Electoral Officer Zorammuana told IANS.
He said: “Following the directions of the Election Commission, the authorities also asked the security forces to strengthen the security along Mizoram’s inter-state borders with Tripura, Assam and Manipur.
“No movement other than those associated with the election process would be allowed at the inter-state borders.”
Vote will be counted on December 11 along with four other poll-bound states — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Chhattisgarh.