Polling to the 40-member Mizoram legislative assembly was peaceful today, with no violence being reported from any part of the state. Polling stations registered 80% voter turnout until 9 pm, and the number was expected to go up further, election officials said.
The similarity in the polling percentage to the previous assembly election's 82% has provided some hope to the ruling Congress, given the belief of poll watchers that the ruling party tends to retain power in the northeastern state whenever there is little change in voter turnout.
The fate of 209 candidates who contested the election will be known when the votes are counted on December 11. As Mizoram is currently the only state ruled by the Congress in the northeast, it is imperative for the party to retain it for the third consecutive term. While the main opposition -- the Mizo National Front (MNF) -- is optimistic about coming back to power after 10 years, the BJP hopes to not only open its account in the state but also turn kingmaker for a non-Congress government in the event of a hung assembly.
Also in the fray is the Zoram People's Movement, an alliance of six regional parties that is seen by many as the dark horse in the polls.
Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla has expressed confidence that his party would storm back to power with a "full majority". He contested from two seats, Serchhip and Champhai South, this year.
While the Congress and MNF contested on all 40 seats, the BJP fielded candidates from 39.
A significant factor that may influence the election is 12,000 voters from the Bru community who turned up to cast their votes at special polling stations set up on the Tripura-Mizoram border. They had migrated to the neighbouring state after ethnic clashes broke out with Mizo tribes in 1997.
In 2013, the Congress won 34 seats while the MNF managed five. Another party, the Mizoram People's Conference, contested from eight seats but bagged just one.
(With inputs from ANI)
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