As voting is underway in Mizoram, the displaced Bru tribal community, currently sheltered in Tripura, is participating in large numbers and coming out to vote at the border village in Kanhmun. Among them was an elderly Bru woman who beamed as she posed for the cameras showing her inked finger.
Ethnic violence broke-out between Mizo and Bru tribes in 1997, due to which scores of Bru families were forced to leave their home state and take shelter in the neighbouring Tripura.
At present, over 12,000 Brus are living in six relief camps in Tripura. They are voting at Kanhmun village in Mamit district where 15 temporary polling stations have been set up.
To safeguard the interest of the Bru community, special polling arrangements have been made across the state. Food and transport facilities are also being provided to those coming to vote.
Earlier, the family of incumbent chief minister Lal Thanhawla's brother Lal Thanzara voted at Zarkawt-2 polling booth in the capital city. Thanzara is contesting from Aizawl North-3 constituency.
In Mizoram, benches have been set up at all polling stations for voters to be seated while waiting for their turn to vote.
As many as 209 candidates are contesting to bag a seat in the 40-member Legislative Assembly. The Congress party, which has been in power in Mizoram since 2008, is eyeing a third consecutive term in the state. Polling would come to an end at 4 pm.
In the previous election in 2013, the Congress had fielded 40 candidates while it won 34 seats, whereas Mizo National Front (MNF) secured only five seats after contesting 31 seats. Mizoram People's Conference (MPC) had contested on eight seats but it managed to bag only one.
Both Congress and Mizo National Front are contesting all 40 constituencies this time, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is fighting in 39 seats.
Mr Thanhawla is contesting from two seats - Serchhipand Champhai South. In Serchhip, Thanhawla will be contesting against Zoram People's Movement's (ZPM) chief ministerial candidate Lalduhoma, Mizo National Front (MNF) nominee C Lalramzauva and People's Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM) party chief Vanlalruata among others.
In the Champhai South, the incumbent Chief Minister would contest against Mizo National Front's TJ Lalnuntluanga and Zoram People's Movement's C Lalremliana.
Chief Electoral Officer Ashish Kundra, in a press conference on Monday, had assured that the election machinery in Mizoram was fully prepared to conduct the elections in a free and fair manner. He added that preparations had been made for 12,026 Brus lodged in six relief camps of Tripura to cast their votes at Kanhmun village in Mamit district where 15 temporary polling stations have been set up.
Mizoram is the only northeastern state that is currently ruled by the Congress. Results will be announced on December 11.