Aizawl, Apr 10 UNI | 3 months ago

Mizoram goes to the polls tomorrow, after the Election Commission deferred the polling date from April 9 to 11, following the state's major NGOs-sponsored three-day shutdown in protest against the exercise of Bru refugees in North Tripura relief camps.

The 6,96,448 voters, including 3,54,514 females, will decide who represent Mizoram's lone seat in the Lok Sabha in the next five years among the three contestants.

By-election to the Hrangturzo assembly seat in Serchhip district left vacant by chief minister Lal Thanhawla, will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls.

The Lok Sabha poll will be a triangular fight between Congress candidate C L Ruala (79), United Democratic Front nominee Robert Romawia Royte (47) and Aam Aadmi Party contestant M Lalmanzuala (71).

UDF is an eight-party alliance comprising three major opposition parties - Mizo National Front (MNF), Mizoram People's Conference (MPC) and Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) and smaller parties. It is supporting BJP-led NDA at the Centre.

Security has been beefed up in the state sandwiched between Myanmar and Bangladesh with eight companies of central paramilitary forces and six battalions of state security forces being deployed.

Election officials said all the polling parties have left for their respective destinations by Thursday afternoon.

There are 1,126 polling stations, of which 40, mainly along the borders, have been declared critical polling stations. The voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) system will be used in 385 polling stations.

The bandh was called by three major NGOs and two students' bodies, all of them extremely influential, in protest against the casting of votes by Bru refugees in the Tripura relief camps. The bandh was called off after the EC gave an written assurance that the Bru refugees would no longer exercise their franchise from outside Mizoram in future elections.

Of the 35,000 refugees living in the relief camps, 11,243 are enrolled in Mizoram voters' list. Of these about 71 per cent voters exercised their franchise.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Congress candidate C L Ruala defeated his nearest rival Dr H Lallungmuana, an independent candidate sponsored by the opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) and Mizoram People's Conference (MPC) combine, by a record margin of 1,05,148 votes.

(Posted on 10-04-2014)