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regular-article-logo Saturday, 20 April 2024

Mizoram polls: ZPM keeps MNF on its toes in cliffhanger in continuity vs change battle

Ruling MNF president and chief minister Zoramthanga exuded confidence about retaining power with an absolute majority in the 40-member Assembly. ZPM working president K. Sapdanga was equally sure the MNF government would not return because 'the anti-incumbency wave was very much strong this time'

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 08.11.23, 06:59 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

Mizoram on Tuesday registered a peaceful voter turnout of over 76 per cent in the single-phase Assembly elections but it was “difficult” to predict which party had the edge in this battle for continuity versus change.

The turnout was 81.11 per cent in 2018. Election officials said around 8.30pm that the turnout was 76.53 per cent at scheduled close at 4pm but it would increase because voting was underway at six polling stations till 9pm in four of the state’s 11 districts.

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EVM and VVPT malfunctioning delayed voting in a few centres, they said, but the problems were swiftly resolved. Chief minister Zoramthanga had to visit his polling station in Aizawl East I twice to cast his vote because of EVM malfunctioning.

The electoral battle is between the Mizo National Front’s (MNF) plea for continuity for development and the ZPM, Congress and BJP’s poll plank of change for “better days”. Ruling MNF president and chief minister Zoramthanga exuded confidence about retaining power with an absolute majority in the 40-member Assembly. He felt his government’s support to Myanmar-Bangladesh refugees and to those internally displaced from Manipur was a “big plus factor” for his party.

However, the MNF’s main rival, the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), did not share his view. ZPM working president K. Sapdanga was equally sure the MNF government would not return because “the anti-incumbency wave was very much strong this time”.

Aizawl-based Rochamliana, general secretary of the Zoram Research Foundation, said that with the emergence of the ZPM, “it is somewhat difficult to predict which party will win or whether any can secure a majority of their own. Most people, it seems, expect a hung result.”

“Since the BJP announced they are ready for a post-poll tie-up, and if they can secure even two seats, they can be a crucial kingmaker in the process,” he said.

The same is true of the Congress too. It will not mind doing business with either the MNF or the ZPM to keep the BJP out of the power equation, said a Congress insider.

The implementation of the dos and don’ts for the elections worked out by the Church-backed voluntary election watchdog, the Mizoram People Forum, in association with political parties has ensured the process remains peaceful and clean in the Christian-majority state.

The BJP is contesting only 23 seats while the MNF, Congress and the ZPM all 40 seats. Since power has swung between the MNF and the Congress since 1987, the strong challenge mounted by the ZPM, and the BJP concentrating on a few pockets, has increased the prospects of a hung House even though most feel the MNF could emerge as the single largest party. None, however, is sure whether it will be enough to win the polls.

A party will need 21 seats to form the government, but its stability is expected to be tested if that party does not get the support of at least one other party.

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