Aizawl: As Mizoram wrapped up its election for the 12th State Assembly on Wednesday with an estimated turn-out of close to 80 per cent, it is not only pulling down curtains on hectic electioneering, but also a lesson for the rest of India to learn on how to celebrate the finest phase of democracy. Not a single untoward incident, not use of any derogatory words, no report of bribing or threatening the voters, no rally that would disturb normal life of citizens – that is what election in Mizoram, once a scene of the worst-ever insurgency, has once again proved to be.
The turn-out at 4 PM, when the gates of polling stations were shut, stood at an average of 71 per cent, with Serchip district – from where state Congress supremo and five-time chief minister Lal Thanhawla is contesting – recording the highest 81 per cent polling. It was 77 per cent in both Kolasib and Lunglei districts, while Champhai district registered a 74 per cent turn-out. There were however long queues in many polling booths even as the gates were shut, with the authorities saying the final voter turn-out percentage would rise further.
‘I must congratulate the people of Mizoram for demonstrating to the rest of India how democracy is best celebrated. Mizoram in fact is a shining example of what free and fair elections exactly mean. The civil society, NGOs like the Young Mizo Association and others have extended remarkable support to ensure this,’ state Chief Electoral Officer Ashish Kundra said while briefing the media at the end of the day here.
Altogether 209 candidates were in the fray in the single-phase election to the 40-member House, with the Congress putting in its best effort to perform a hat-trick against an aggressive campaign by three opposition parties, they being the Mizo National Front (MNF), Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and BJP. While the BJP is looking at forming a non-Congress government by taking the other two opposition parties in the event of no party getting a simple majority, the Congress too is reportedly examining the possibility of keeping the BJP out by tying up with the others.
Bru voters: Voting in a special polling station put up at Kawnmun in Mamit district to facilitate casting of votes by the Bru refugees currently lodged in camps in Kanchanpur sub-division of neighbouring Tripura too passed off peacefully with state CEO Ashish Kundra saying the turn-out was 52 per cent. ‘Altogether 6284 of the 11,987 Mizoram voters in the Bru relief camps in Tripura turned up and cast their votes,’ CEO Kundra said.
The Bru tribals of Mizoram who had taken refuge inside Tripura about two decades ago following clashes, were provided transportation to come to the special polling station in Mamit district, with the Young Mizo Association even organising meals and drinking water for them as a goodwill gesture. ‘The Brus initially were belligerent and wanted a polling station in their relief camps. But they were later convinced after a lot of efforts,’ CEO Kundra said. The government and CEO of Tripura also extended support to help the Brus come to vote inside Mizoram, he added.
Rs 15 lakh seized: The only ‘incident’ that took place during the run-up to voting was seizure of Rs 15 lakh in cash during a checking of vehicles on the inter-state highway at Vairangte, CEO Kundra said. While he refused to divulge whether any particular political party was trying to bring in such a huge amount of cash from Assam to Mizoram late Tuesday evening, the police have seized the vehicle and also detained a few persons, he informed.
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