INDIATOP NEWS

Mizoram records 80% polling, Bru refugees clock 56%

GUWAHATI

About 80% of Mizoram’s 7,70,395 voters cast their votes for the 40 Assembly seats in the State on Wednesday.

The final figure, officials said, could be closer to the 80.82% of 2013 after people standing in queues at many booths after the voting ended at 4 p.m. get to cast their votes.

Serchhip district recorded the highest turnout of 81%, while Aizawl district clocked the lowest of 65%.

Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla is contesting the Serchhip seat and Champhai South in Champhai district, where the voting percentage was 75.

As much as 56.46% of the 11,987 displaced Bru voters lodged in six relief camps in Tripura cast their votes at special booths set up at Kanhmun, a Mizoram village in Mamit district bordering Tripura.

The Election Commission had established 15 polling booths at a playground and indoor badminton stadium for Brus who had fled ethnic violence from across nine Assembly seats in Mizoram 21 years ago.

Ashish Kundra, Mizoram’s Chief Electoral Officer who replaced S.B. Shashank less than a fortnight before the polls, appreciated civil society groups such as the Young Mizo Association for helping officials set up booths for the refugees and arranging food and water. Each voter was given a packet of rice and pork curry.

The Tripura government had organised 140 buses and 100 smaller vehicles to bring the refugees from the relief camps within 57 km from Kanhmun to a bridge across the Lankaih River that connects the two States. The buses could not move beyond Damcherra, about 500 metres from Kanhmun, from where the refugees walked to the booths much before voting began at 7 am.

The polling at the Kanhmun booths ended at 3 p.m., but some voters continued to be in queues.

“Once again, the people of Mizoram demonstrated to the rest of India that the State continues to be a shining example of democracy, of free and fair elections. Volunteers of civil society groups chipped in to ensure a smooth, orderly and peaceful poll process,” Mr. Kundra said.

He also lauded the Tripura government, specifically the North Tripura district administration, for setting an example of cooperative federalism across the inter-State boundary. “The cost of transportation would be borne by the Mizoram government,” Mr. Kundra said.

He said there were a few cases of EVMs and VVPATs malfunctioning but they were replaced within a short time for voting to continue smoothly. There was no report of any violence, and only one case of seizure of cash — ₹15 lakh — was registered at Vairenge on the Assam-Mizoram border.

Zoramthanga pips CM

Mizo National Front (MNF) president and former Chief Minister Zoramthanga was one of the first to cast his vote at Ramhlun in Aizawl. He is contesting the Aizawl East-I seat. “We are confident of victory because of corruption and misrule by the Congress and its liquor policy against the wishes of the church and the people,” he said.

Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, who cast his vote along with wife Lal Riliani in Zarkawt area of Aizawl a little before noon, was equally confident.

“We are making it three in a row and will break the jinx that no party in Mizoram can form the government for more than 10 years,” he said.

Among those who voted were leaders of the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Coordination Committee, who have been opposing the repatriation packages for falling short of expectations.

“We appreciate the smooth conduct of the polls, but the time of voting should have been increased for most of us to vote,” the committee’s president Laldingliana said.

Oldest voters

Rochhinga, a Presbyterian Church elder and resident of Zemabawk North in Aizawl East-I constituency, was considered to be the oldest voter in Mizoram at 108 years. He was followed by Darrohnuni, 106, who cast her vote at Kawrthah polling station in Hachhek constituency on Mizoram-Tripura border. The third oldest was Aiziki, 104, of Chanmari area in Lunglei district.

An added feature of this election was an all-women booth in each of the 40 constituencies. The booths were named Dingdi, after a wildflower indigenous to the State.

Wednesday’s voting sealed the fate of 209 candidates, nine of the contesting two seats each. While the Congress and MNF fielded candidates in all 40 seats, the BJP fielded in 39 followed by Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) in 37, Zoram Thar in 23, People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram in 14, National People’s Party in nine, and Nationalist Congress Party in five.

There are four independents in the fray, though the unregistered ZPM and Zoram Thar candidates are contesting as independents.

The results for the 40 seats are scheduled to be declared on December 11.

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