Congress pulls off emphatic win in Mizoram (Roundup)

Aizawl, Dec 9: A day after suffering humiliating defeats in four states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi, the Congress party retained power in Mizoram, sweeping 30 of the 40 constituencies and leaving the opposition badly bruised with barely six seats.

Results of four seats were awaited with counting still continuing.

Thousands of Congress supporters celebrated across the state, as election results gave some vigour to the partymen after the crushing electoral defeats in the four states.

The ruling Congress bagged 30 seats while the main opposition Mizo National Front (MNF), which led the three-party coalition Mizoram Democratic Alliance (MDA), secured only five seats. Another MDA partner Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) managed only one seat.

The MNF, a militant outfit-turned political party, was in power in Mizoram for 10 years from 1998 to 2008.

During the last assembly elections in 2008, the Congress had won 32 seats and the remaining seats were bagged by various local parties.

Congress leader and Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, 71, who established the Congress base in the Christian-dominated state, was elected to the assembly for a record ninth time since 1978.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has little base in the bordering state, contested from 17 seats and lost in all.

This is for the sixth time that the Congress has come to power in the northeastern state which has its borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh.

“Under tight security, ballots were counted in eight district headquarters since 8 a.m. Monday,” Mizoram Joint Chief Electoral Officer H. Lalengmawia told IANS.

Lal Thanhawla, also state Congress chief, who was contesting from two constituencies, won both the Serchhip and Hrangturzo seats (both in central Mizoram) defeating his respective MNF and Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) rivals.

He defeated MNF’s C. Lalramzauva, a lawyer and a three-time former legislator, on the Serchhip seat by 734 votes while he retained the Hrangturzo seat beating MPC’s Lalthansanga by 1,628 votes.

“There was not a single instance of irregularities of our government. People voted for us seeing the success of our governance,” Lal Thanhawla told reporters after the win.

Opposition MDA’s chief ministerial candidate and MNF supremo Zoramthanga lost his East Tuipui seat (in eastern Mizoram) to the Congress’s T. Sangkunga by 798 votes. This was his second consecutive defeat.

Industries and Tourism minister S. Hiato was the only minister in the outgoing government who lost his Saiha constituency to MNF’s K. Beichhua by only 222 votes.

Home minister R. Lalzirliana, Law and School Education Minister Lalsawta, and Food, Civil Supplies, Environment and Forests Minister H. Rohluna won.

Non-Mizo Congress candidate and Chakma tribal leader Buddha Dhan Chakma won from the Tuichawng seat.

Joint Chief Electoral Officer H. Lalengmawia said a repoll has been ordered in the Tialdawngilung polling station in Lawngtlai East constituency in central Mizoram as counting could not be held because of a defective electronic voting machine.

The repoll would be held Dec 11 and votes will be counted the next day.

Over 81 percent of the total of 690,860 voters exercised their franchise across the state Nov 25 to elect a new 40-member assembly.

In all, 142 candidates, including six women, contested the elections.

The main poll battle was between the ruling Congress and opposition coalition MDA, comprising MNF, MPC and Maraland Democratic Front (MDF) — all regional parties.

Of the 40 seats, 39 were reserved for tribals and one seat was for general category.

With a total population of 1,091,014, Mizoram is the only state in India where women voters outnumbered men by 9,806 in the total electorate of 690,860.

IANS