Mizoram local bodies polls held amid Covid-19 pandemic
Aizawl, Aug. 27 (IANS): Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the State Election Commission on Thursday held elections to over 500 village councils and more than 70 urban local body councils in Mizoram. Various political parties had demanded postponement of the polls fearing the further spread of the novel coronavirus infection.
State Election Commission (EC) officials here said that social distancing protocols are being maintained as voters turned up to exercise their franchise. Voting began at 7 a.m. and will end at 5 p.m.
The votes will be counted on Friday.
“Polling is underway in a peaceful manner and orderly atmosphere. No untoward incident has been reported from anywhere in the state till late afternoon,” a state EC official told the media.
In the polling centres, elderly male and female voters were seen standing in queues in the morning to cast their votes.
According to officials, 4,54,180 people are eligible to cast votes in 558 village councils across the state and 2,18,758 in 83 local councils under Aizawl Municipal Corporation.
In all, 8,491 candidates including 2,102 women are contesting the local bodies’ polls.
Besides the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party, Zoram People’s Movement, Mizoram People’s Conference, National People’s Party and Hmar People Convention have fielded candidates.
The state poll panel postponed polling in 24 local councils to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Mizoram EC Commissioner Laima Chozah said the state election commission had issued standard operating procedures and safety protocols for all voters as well as the polling staff and parties.
He said the term of the village councils expired on May 7. However, due to the outbreak of Covid-19, it was extended till September 7.
Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, after casting his vote, tweeted: “I have participated in the Mizoram general elections to the village councils and local councils.”
“Thanking all the election officials and every part-taker for providing a safe platform to many voters in exercising our constitutional franchise amidst this pandemic,” Zoramthanga, also the President of the MNF, said in the tweet.
Mizoram has so far recorded 974 Covid-19 positive cases. A total of 473 people have recovered from the disease while 501 people are under treatment with two cases migrating to other states.
Of the 974 Covid-19 positive cases, around 40 per cent belong to Central Para-Military Forces and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).