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82% voter turnout in Mizoram
No flurry or extra vigil in poll calm

Aizawl, Nov. 25: Chief minister Lal Thanhawla’s visit was the most anticipated at the polling station where he was to cast his vote here this morning, it was also the quietest for someone in his position. To start with, there was hardly any security outside the polling station or when he interacted with mediapersons.

As elsewhere in the city, just two Mizoram police constables were on duty at the polling booth which falls under a constituency from where the chief minister’s youngest brother, Lal Thanzara, is seeking re-election.

Supporters and hangers-on, a common sight during VVIP visits to any function or event in other states, were also missing when Lal Thanhawla arrived in his private vehicle at the 1914-established Combined Middle School in Babutlang polling station of Aizawl North III constituency at 9.45am. He was accompanied by his wife and daughter.

But such public conduct is not an exception in Mizoram, which went to the polls today, logging yet another impressive turnout — 82 per cent and counting.

“Polling was completely peaceful throughout the state. The turnout (over 82 per cent) is more than in 2008,” chief electoral officer Ashwini Kumar told The Telegraph.

In 2008, it was a shade over 80 per cent. Field visits by this correspondent to three of the 14 constituencies in Aizawl district earlier in the day reflected the peaceful nature of polling.

There are 40 constituencies in Mizoram where the ruling Congress is involved in a triangular fight with the three-party Mizoram Democratic Alliance (Mizo National Front, Mizoram People’s Conference and Maraland Democratic Front) and the Zoram Nationalist Party.

In the Khatla area here, most voters spent the day talking, sipping tea and soaking in the winter sun under the watchful eyes of the Mizoram People’s Forum, the Church-controlled NGO which has, most admitted, made elections since 2008 more peaceful and smooth by checking “unnecessary” campaigning. The weather, too, was pleasant.

“We are not surprised because election in the state has always been peaceful,” said Ramsangaleiri, a polling official in Khatla.

The introduction of two new features such as the VVPAT (voter-verifiable paper audit trail that ensures the vote goes to the person it has been cast for) and NOTA (none of the above) option that gives the voters the scope to reject candidates if they don’t match up to his/her expectation, also added to the pleasant experience of the voters.

Security personnel, too, appeared relaxed unlike in some other states.

Voters said they want the next government to deliver on the promise of making Mizoram “prosperous” by creating more employment opportunities and infrastructure.

The buzz during and after polling was that the Congress is set to form the government on its own once again, but it may not get as many seats as it had in 2008 — 32.

The suspense for the parties and the 142 candidates will end on December 9, the day of the counting.

The flagship new land use policy and the “need for continuity” could swing the scales in favour of the Congress in Mizoram, the only state where the party seems to be ahead compared to the other four states that are going to polls around the same time.

“We can retain power because of the NULP. We may get anywhere between 26 and 34 seats,” Lal Thanzara, 64, told this correspondent.

If the Congress wins, Lal Thanhawla will continue as the chief minister because he is the “undisputed leader” of the party in Mizoram, Thanzara added.

The chief minister himself is contesting from two constituencies — Serchhip and Hrangturzo in Serchhip district.

He returned to his constituencies, more than three hours drive from here. But before leaving, Lal Thanhawla asserted, “I am confident of forming the next government.”

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