Low-key campaigning for Mizo polls ends

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Aizawl, Nov 30 (UNI) Campaigning came to an end today for the sixth Mizoram state Assembly elections which will broadly be a three-cornered fight between the ruling Mizo National Front, opposition Pradesh Congress and a three-party United Democratic Alliance.

The ruling Mizo National Front is led by Mr Zoramthanga, opposition Pradesh Congress is led by former Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla and United Democratic Alliance is led by former Chief Minister Brig T Sailo.

Altogether, 206 hopefuls are in the fray for the triangular December 2 elections to the 40-member House, of which nine are female. Ironically, the state has total 6,11,124 electorate of whom females constitute 3,08,84, outnumbering their male counterparts by 6,644.

Besides the candidates of lesser-known parties Lok Janshakti Party (33), Bharatiya Janata Party (9) and Lok Bharati (4), Janata Dal United (2), there are 37 Independents in the fray.

Political pundits have observed that there is a strong anti-incumbency wave which the Congress and the UDA have equal chances of gaining from, but may fall short of the magic number of 22, thereby resulting in a hung Assembly.

''If there is a hung Assembly, the UDA would tie up with the Congress rather than with the MNF,'' the political pundits said.

As many as 62 polling stations have been identified as ''sensitive'', while another eight polling stations are ''very sensitive''.

All the eight very sensitive polling stations fall under Hmar People's Convention - Democratic (HPC-D)'s demanded (autonomous district council) area bordering Manipur.

Heavy troops of Second Indian Reserve Battalion and Nagaland IR are being deployed in the sensitive and very sensitive areas, while the state and central para-military forces are manning the borders with Manipur, Tripura, Bangladesh and Myanmar for peaceful polls.

Election officials have left for their respective areas. Except for the capital Aizawl district, the remaining seven districts have a few villages inaccessible by roads.

While the ruling MNF president Zoramthanga is contesting from two constituencies Champhai North and Champhai South, the opposition Congress president Lal Thanhawla is also contesting from two constituencies Serchhip and South Tuipui.

The Chief Ministerial candidate of UDA, Brig T Sailo, is contesting from Aizawl West II while the UDA's Deputy Chief Ministerial candidate and ZNP chief Lalduhoma is contesting from two constituencies in Aizawl West I and Tuivawl.

The 2008 Mizoram Elections have witnessed a significant low-key campaign thanks to the ''thou-shalt-not'' dictats of the Church-sponsored Mizoram People's Forum.

The low-profile pre-poll activities had actually come to a standstill from last night as Sunday is a holy day in the Christian-dominated state.

Most prominent among the female candidates are Ms Lalhlimpuii, former minister and ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) nominee for Hrangturzo constituency in Serchhip district, and theologian-turned-politician H Lalhmingthangi, who is contesting from Champhai South seat against MNF boss and Chief Minister Zoramthanga.

Mizoram Peoples' Conference (MPC) party chief and United Democratic Alliance (UDA)'s Chief Ministerial candidate Brig T Sailo (86) is the oldest, while two of the Lok Janshakti Party candidates Lalremruata and Lalthuammawii are only 25 years of age.

Of the total 206 hopefuls in the fray, 82 candidates are below 45 years and 124 contestants above 46 years, making the average age of the candidates 48.

There are as many as 146 candidates from Aizawl district alone, of which 136 are Aizawl residents.

UNI ZS DPM RD AE NS1602

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