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Mizoram Goes to the Polls Friday

Balloting for the lone Lok Sabha constituency and a by-poll for an assembly seat in Mizoram will be held Friday, after it was postponed due to a three-day shutdown and boycott call by NGOs and students\' groups, an official said here Thursday.

Published: 10th April 2014 01:58 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th April 2014 02:00 PM   |  A+A-

women_PTI
By IANS

Balloting for the lone Lok Sabha constituency and a by-poll for an assembly seat in Mizoram will be held Friday, after it was postponed due to a three-day shutdown and boycott call by NGOs and students' groups, an official said here Thursday.

"All arrangements have been made for Friday's election. Some polling personnel escorted by security forces left for their booths Wednesday and the remaining will be leaving Thursday," an election commission official told reporters.

With a population of 1,091,014, Mizoram's 702,189 electorate, including 355,954 women, would decide the fate of three candidates in the lone Lok Sabha constituency.

Around 4,500 polling personnel have been appointed in 1,126 polling stations, of which 385 centres, mainly in urban areas, would use the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system with the electronic voting machines.

The VVPAT was used in 10 assembly segments in last year's polls in Mizoram.

In Mizoram's lone Lok Sabha constituency, it will be a triangular fight between incumbent member C.L. Ruala of the Congress, Robert Romawia Royte of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and M. Lalmanzuala of the Aam Aadmi Party.

The main opposition UDF is an alliance of eight parties led by the Mizo National Front (MNF), which ruled the state for two terms (1998-2003 and 2003-2008). The UDF is supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The MNF had won the Lok Sabha seat, reserved for tribals, in 2004.

The by-election for the Hrangturzo assembly seat would also be held Friday.

The by-election was necessitated after Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, who won from two constituencies in the assembly polls held Nov 25, vacated the seat.

Vanlalawmpuii Chawngthu of the Congress would contest against UDF leader H. Lalduhawma, who unsuccessfully contested the last election from the same seat.

Tight security arrangements have been made across the state and along the international border with Myanmar and Bangladesh to conduct the polls in a free and fair manner. Eight companies of central paramilitary forces and six battalions of state security forces have been deployed.

Mizoram shares a 404-km unfenced border with Myanmar and 318 km with Bangladesh. The mountainous terrain and dense forests make the border porous and vulnerable to smugglers, illegal migrants and intruders.

Polling in Mizoram was scheduled to be held April 9 but the Election Commission deferred it to April 11 due to a three-day shutdown and poll boycott call by NGOs and students' groups in the state.

Six voluntary organisations and students' groups led by the Young Mizo Association called the three-day state-wide strike from April 7 and urged people to boycott the polls protesting the Election Commission's decision to allow tribal refugees in Tripura to cast their votes through postal ballot.

Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla last month urged the Election Commission not to take votes of the refugees.

The chief minister and the voluntary organisations have been demanding that the refugees be repatriated to their villages in Mizoram and then allowed to cast their votes in the normal process.

Of the over 36,000 Reang tribal refugees living in seven camps in Tripura for the past 17 years after fleeing their villages in Mizoram, 11,500 were on electoral rolls in Mizoram and 71 percent of them voted through postal ballot last week.

In view of a threat by NGOs to obstruct counting of postal ballot papers in Aizawl, the poll panel decided to count them in Kanchanpur in north Tripura May 16, Kanchanpur Sub-Divisional Magistrate Nantu Das told IANS.

The Reang tribals - locally known as Bru - fled their villages in Mizoram and took shelter in neighbouring Tripura in October 1997 after an ethnic conflict broke out with the majority Mizos over the killing of a Mizo forest official.



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