The month-long campaign for the November 28 Assembly elections in Mizoram came to a close on Monday afternoon, with no major untoward incident reported from any part of the state so far.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP president Amit Shah, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, and Chief Ministers of Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland were among those undertaking hectic campaigns for their candidates.
The Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements to hold the elections and taken several security measures to ensure free and fair polls.
“Campaigning by the political parties has been totally peaceful so far. Every process is now going on smoothly,” Mizoram’s Joint Chief Electoral Officer Zorammuana said Monday.
Among the eight northeastern states, Mizoram is the last state ruled by a Congress government. The party has been in power except for 10 years–1998 to 2008–since the state become a full-fledged state in 1987.
Chief Electoral Officer Ashish Kundra said here that the officials escorted by the security personnel have already left for the 1,164 polling stations in eight districts.
He said that around 40 all-women managed polling stations have been set up across the constituencies in which the entire polling staff, including the police and security personnel, are women.
“The VVPAT (Voters Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) machines would be used along with EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) in all the 40 constituencies to enhance transparency and credibility of the elections,” the Joint CEO told the media.
A total of 209 candidates, 67 higher than in 2013 state polls, are in the fray for the Wednesday’s Assembly elections.
Of the 209 candidates, 15 are women. In 2013, only six women had contested and none were successful.
Like the previous elections, women voters once again outnumber the men in Mizoram. Of the 768,181 voters, there are 393,685 women and 374,496 men.
The Election Commission has set up 15 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 the Assembly elections.
The place of voting for the tribal refugee voters had become a highly contentious issue in the run-up to the Mizoram Assembly polls, leading to replacement of the CEO S.B. Shashank by Ashish Kundra, two weeks before the polling.
The refugees had demanded to set up polling stations in the seven refugee camps in northern Tripura, which was vehemently opposed by the powerful Mizoram NGO Coordination Committee (MNCC).
An agitation had been started by the MNCC demanding setting up of polling stations in different districts of Mizoram for taking the votes of the refugees.