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60% turnout in Mizoram

- Poll panel glare on AIUDF chief for controversial comment; voting passes off peacefully
A woman shows her ink-marked finger after casting her vote on Friday. (PTI)

Aizawl, April 11: Polling for Mizoram’s lone Lok Sabha seat went off peacefully today with around 60 per cent voter turnout — a moderate show despite fine weather.

Mizoram’s chief electoral officer Ashwani Kumar estimated the voter turnout to be 60 per cent but added that it might cross the mark.

“The figure is higher than the 50.93 per cent turnout recorded in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls but lower than the 83.41 per cent recorded in the 2013 Assembly polls,” he said.

According to the Election Commission, the voter turnout in 706 of the 1,126 polling stations in the state was 59.89 per cent.

Talking about the possible reasons for the fall in the voter turnout compared to the Assembly polls, Kumar said reports from the field suggested voters were not “as enthusiastic about the parliamentary polls as the Assembly polls,” because there was “only one” Lok Sabha seat in Mizoram.

Byelection to the Hrangturzo Assembly seat, held simultaneously with Lok Sabha polls, registered a provisional poll turnout of 75.54 per cent.

The bypoll was held after chief minister Lal Thanhawla, who also won from Serchhip, vacated the Hrangturzo seat. He today expressed confidence that the Congress candidate for the bypoll, C. Lalawmpuii, president of Mizoram Youth Congress, would win. “My party candidate will receive more votes than I did in the 2013 Assembly election,” he said after casting his vote at Zarkawt polling station-II here.

He alleged that this was one of the hardest Lok Sabha elections because of the “money power” of the Opposition while Mizo National Front president Zoramthanga hoped that the EVMs “would not be rigged this time”.

Despite the clear weather — sunny but not hot — only a few people turned up at the polling stations in Aizawl before noon. With absence of major issues, some voters appeared to be reluctant to exercise their franchise.

“I stayed home as I had decided not to cast vote. However, my sister insisted that I fulfil my duty as a citizen of India. So I went to the polling booth after 3pm,” said C. Lalhmangaih Tluangi.

There was a slowdown at midday but the voter turnout significantly increased in the afternoon, polling officials said. Polling was completely peaceful in the 1,126 booths, they added.

There was a delay in polling at College Veng South polling station in Lawngtlai in south Mizoram as voters refused to cast votes suspecting that the EVM had been “tampered”. After the machine was replaced, voting began around 11am.

Officials said voters were suspicious because when EVM engineers and officials checked the EVM equipped with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system last night, the presiding officer was not present.

Two EVMs were replaced in Aizawl and one in Serchhip district after they developed snags. Ten VVPAT systems also developed snag, officials said. The VVPAT system was used in 335 polling stations.

The main contenders for the Lok Sabha polls are Congress’s C.L. Ruala, United Democratic Front nominee Robert Romawia Royte and Aam Aadmi Party’s M. Lalmanzuala.

The war of words between candidates continued on polling day with Ruala, who is aiming for a second term, alleging that Royte used money power during campaigning. Denying the charge, Royte hoped he would win the election if the voter turnout was more than 70 per cent.

Lalmanzuala, a retired IAS officer, was away on a tour of Europe, at the time of polling.


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