Mizoram, Chhattisgarh Set To Kick Off 5-state Poll Battles - Eastern Mirror
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Mizoram, Chhattisgarh set to kick off 5-state poll battles

By PTI Updated: Nov 06, 2023 10:19 pm
Voting representational image PTI
Representational image. Source: PTI.

AIZAWL — Security was intensified across Mizoram and at the international borders in the state ahead of polling for the assembly elections on Tuesday, according to officials. Voting for the 40-member assembly will commence at 7 am and continue until 4 pm, they said.

Extensive security measures have been implemented, and the state’s borders have been sealed in anticipation of the polling, stated Inspector-General of Police (Headquarters) Lalbiakthanga Khiangte.

A total of 7,200 security personnel have been deployed across the state to ensure free, fair, and peaceful elections, he added. “In total, 1,831 police officers from Mizoram, along with 2,527 Special Armed Police Force (SAPF) personnel and 2,700 Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel, have been deployed across the state,” he added. Additionally, 160 personnel of the Mizoram Reserved Home Guards have been deployed for election duty, Khiangte mentioned.

The state shares international borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh and has inter-state borders with Assam, Tripura, and Manipur. “No untoward incidents have been reported during the campaign, which witnessed a large number of VVIPs visiting the state. This peaceful environment reflects Mizoram’s commitment to upholding democratic values and ensuring a fair electoral process,” stated the state police in a statement on Monday.

Urging the people to continue maintaining peace during the polling, the police expressed its commitment to ensuring a “secure and safe” electoral process. “We are dedicated to upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of every citizen. Our officers will be deployed throughout the state, working in coordination with other security agencies to maintain peace and order on the day of the elections,” the statement said.

Approximately 8.57 lakh voters, including 4.39 lakh women, are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 174 candidates in the 40 seats. The ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), the main opposition Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), and Congress have fielded candidates in all the seats. The BJP is contesting 23 seats, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded candidates in four seats. Additionally, there are 27 independent candidates. The counting of votes will take place on December 3.

First phase of Chhattisgarh elections

Voting for the first phase of Assembly polls for 20 seats, several of them in the Naxal-affected Bastar division in Chhattisgarh, will take place on Tuesday, with poll officials stating that 25,249 personnel have been deployed for the purpose. Voting will be held between 7 am and 3 pm in 10 seats, namely Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur, and Konta, they said. Votes will be cast between 8 am and 5 pm in Khairagarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji, Pandariya, Kawardha Bastar, Jagdalpur, and Chitrakot, the officials added.

In the first phase, the fate of 223 candidates, including 25 women, will be decided by an estimated 40,78,681 voters, comprising 19,93,937 males, 20,84,675 females, and 69 third-gender persons. As many as 5,304 polling booths have been set up for the first phase.

A release issued from the office of the state’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said 25,429 polling personnel have been deployed for the first phase of polls. “A total of 156 poll parties have been sent to Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada, Kanker, and Narayanpur districts on board helicopters, while 5,148 polling teams have been sent to respective booths by buses. Of the 5,304 booths, webcasting facilities will be available in 2,431,” the release said.

A senior police official said 60,000 security personnel, including 40,000 from Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), have been deployed for the smooth conduct of polls in 12 constituencies of the Naxal-hit Bastar division. Of the 20 seats, 12 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes, and one for the Scheduled Caste category.

The highest number of contestants is in Rajnandgaon constituency (29), while the lowest number of candidates is seven each in Chitrakot and Dantewada seats, poll officials said. Chhattisgarh Congress chief and MP Deepak Baij (Chitrakot), ministers Kawasi Lakhma (Konta), Mohan Markam (Kondagaon), and Mohammad Akbar (Kawardha), as well as Chhavindra Karma (Dantewada), who is the son of the late leader Mahendra Karma, are among prominent candidates from the ruling party in the first phase.

For the BJP, former chief minister Raman Singh is contesting from Ranjangaon against Congress’ Girish Dewangan, chairman of Chhattisgarh State Mineral Development Corporation. Other prominent figures from the saffron party include four former ministers Lata Usendi (Kondagaon seat), Vikram Usendi (Antagarh), Kedar Kashyap (Narayanpur), and Mahesh Gagda (Bijapur), as well as former IAS officer Neelkanth Tekam from Keshkal.

The Aam Aadmi Party’s state unit chief Komal Hupendi will contest from Bhanupratappur seat, while MLA Anup Nag, after being denied a ticket by the Congress, is running as an Independent from Antagarh seat.

Congress holds 19 of these 20 seats, including two it won in bypolls. In the 2018 Assembly polls, Congress had won 17 of these 20 seats, the BJP two, and the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh one.

The first phase of campaigning saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacking Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel over the alleged Mahadev betting app scam, while other leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party spoke on religious conversion, deteriorating law and order, and corruption. BJP leaders emphasised at rallies that their party’s promises are “Modi’s guarantees”.

Congress based its campaign on the array of welfare schemes of the Baghel government for farmers, women, tribals, and Dalits, as well as a promise to waive farm loans if it retains power. It also criticised the BJP-led Centre for “handing over” resources to “industrialist friends”. Congress has 71 seats in the 90-member Assembly. In the 2018 polls, it inflicted a crushing defeat on the BJP, which had been ruling the state since 2003.

By PTI Updated: Nov 06, 2023 10:19:30 pm
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