Nearly two-third voters cast ballot in Mizoram (Fourth Lead)

Aizawl, April 11: Despite the heat, nearly two-thirds of the voters cast their ballots Friday for the lone Lok Sabha seat and in a by-poll for an assembly segment in mountainous Mizoram, officials said here.

In the last Lok Sabha elections in 2009, the voter turnout was around 51 percent in the state.

Mizoram’s Chief Electoral Officer Ashwani Kumar said that the polling was peaceful and no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the state that borders Myanmar and Bangladesh besides Tripura and Assam.

“Over 60 percent polling was recorded. However, the turnout figures might increase after getting the final report from all the eight districts. Voters are still waiting in some of the polling stations to cast their votes,” he said.

Elections for both the Lok Sabha and the assembly seat were earlier scheduled April 9 but were postponed to Friday due to a three-day shutdown and boycott call by NGOs and student groups in Mizoram to protest tribal refugees’ voting through postal ballots from Tripura relief camps.

“Voting was delayed for sometime in some polling stations after the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) developed technical snags. Engineers either rectified the EVMs or replaced them and the balloting proceeded as usual,” the CEO told IANS.

Reports reaching here said that young, new and women voters wearing traditional attire queued up much before the polling stations opened at 7 a.m.

Mizoram’s lone Lok Sabha constituency witnessed a triangular battle between sitting 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 2003-08). 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 is also being 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 is pitted against UDF leader H. Lalduhawma, who unsuccessfully contested the last election from the same seat.

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

There were 1,126 polling stations, of which 385 centres, mainly in urban areas, used the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system with the EVM.

The VVPAT confirms the voting.

IANS