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Will Congress hold on to its last northeast state as Mizoram votes today

The Congress and the MNF are contesting from all 40 seats, while BJP has put up candidates in 39 seats and the ZPM in 35 seats.

mizoram elections Updated: Nov 28, 2018 09:58 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Mizoram Election 2018,Mizoram Election 2018 News,Mizoram Constituency
Electoral officials demonstrate how to use an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) at Kasko Reang refugee camp, in Panisagar sub-division, Nov. 25, 2018.(PTI)

Polling counters opened on Wednesday in Mizoram, where Congress, which is in power since 2008 in the northeastern state, is facing a stiff battle from the Mizo National Front for the 40 assembly seats.

Around 770,000 voters will decide the fate of 209 candidates,18 of whom are women, as the state goes to polls for the eighth time since it was declared a state in 1987.

Experts say Mizoram could have its first hung assembly this time as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is also seeking to make its presence felt. The BJP has made deep inroads in the northeast since the Modi government came to power at the Centre in 2014 and its performance in the Christian-majority state will be keenly watched.

The state had recorded 83.41% polling in 2013. Five years ago, the figure stood at 80% and in 2008 the state had witnessed 78.65% polling.

For Live updates on Mizoram assembly election, clickhere.

Read: How Mizoram voted in the 2013 assembly elections

To ensure smooth polling, 40 companies of central para-military forces have been deployed in all the eight districts along with state police personnel.

Congress, which is in power since 2008, is facing a stiff battle from the Mizo National Front for the 40 assembly seats. With BJP and other smaller parties putting up a strong campaign, some say Mizoram could have its first hung assembly this time.

Watch: I will win, says BJP’s lone Muslim candidate

“In earlier polls, there was a clear fight between Congress and the MNF, but this time we have the BJP, the Zoram People’s Movement and the National Peoples’ Party as well, who could win a few seats. So there’s a possibility of a hung assembly,” said J Doungel, professor of political science in Mizoram University.

The Congress and the MNF are contesting from all 40 seats, while BJP has put up candidates in 39 seats and the ZPM in 35 seats. NPP, which is in power in Meghalaya and is part of the ruling coalition in Nagaland and Manipur, is contesting 9 seats.

Read: High-octane battle expected between Congress, MNF in Mizoram

A total of 209 candidates, 18 of whom are women, are in the fray. The state will have 1,164 polling stations across all eight districts.

“For the first time the state’s 4,363 service voters have been issued electronic ballots. So we will get electronically-transmitted postal ballots. Special provisions have been made at polling stations for 3,915 physically-challenged voters,” Kundra said.

Watch: What angry Mandsaur farmers could mean for the BJP in Madhya Pradesh

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Every constituency will have an all-women polling station and there will be web streaming of polling from 41 polling stations. Instructions in Braille have also been made for visually-challenged voters in some polling stations.

All eyes will be on Kanhmun village in the Mamit district close to the border with Tripura, where some of the nearly 11,000 of the registered Bru voters living in relief camps in the neighbouring state, are expected to vote.

Read - Urban vs Rural: Voting patterns in Mizoram

Thousands of Brus had fled Mizoram in 1997 following ethnic clashes and have been living at six relief camps in Tripura ever since. Efforts to resettle them in Mizoram have failed.

Opposition to a proposal to allow them to vote in Tripura by political parties and organizations in Assam led the Election Commission to set up a polling station at Mamit to ensure they cast their votes in Mizoram.

For full coverage on Mizoram assembly elections, click here.

First Published: Nov 28, 2018 06:57 IST