Aizawl (Mizoram), Dec.2 : Elections began in the remote north-eastern state of Mizoram on Tuesday morning amidst tight security.
Reports from various parts of the state said that the polling process has got off to a slow start and is likely to pick up later in the day.
This is the fourth assembly polls since Mizoram attained statehood in February 1987, a year after the Mizo Peace Accord was signed. The three main contenders are the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), the Congress and the United Democratic Alliance. n all, 6,11,124 voters will decide the fate of 205 candidates competing for seats in the 40-member Mizoram Assembly.
Security forces have sealed the 722-kilometer-long international border along Bangladesh and Myanmar and Mizoram's borders with Manipur, Assam and Tripura.
A majority of the polling booths in the state have been declared as hyper-sensitive or sensitive. Additional state police personnel have been deployed along Mizoram's borders with Manipur and Assam. The Border Security Force and the Assam Rifles are manning the international borders.
The centre has sent five additional companies of central paramilitary forces as against the state's plea for 15 additional companies. Mizoram has three armed police battalions and four India Reserve battalions, besides state police spread over all the eight districts.
In Mizoram, women voters outnumber their male counterparts by 6,654.
Nine women candidates are in the fray for this year's polls. Women bodies like the Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP) or the Mizo Women's Federation and the newly-formed Women Welfare Front (WWF) are hopeful about women making it to the State Legislature.
State election officials said that majority of the 2,900 service voters and around 8,000 Bru voters, now lodged in six relief camps in neighbouring Tripura have exercised franchise through postal ballots.
The oldest candidate is the 85-year-old former chief minister and chief ministerial candidate of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Brigadier Thenphunga Sailo who is contesting from the prestigious Aizawl West-II seat where he is pitted against 36-year-old Lalruatkima of the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) and the Congress lone woman candidate Zothankimi.
The MNF contested 39 seats while its pre-poll partner the Mara Democratic Front (MDF) is contesting from one constituency.
The Congress is contesting all the 40 seats and the UDA, a pre-poll alliance of the Mizoram People's Conference and the Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) is contesting 37 seats.
Political parties like the BJP, the NCP, the Lok Janshakti Party and Lok Bharti also fielded candidates and there are 36 independent candidates.