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Mizoram Election Scenario

- Mangjangam Touthang *

Dated Aizawl, the 28th November 2008

Mizoram which has only 40 Assembly seats goes to poll on December 02. This is the 6th general election in the State since it became a Union Territory in 1972. Land of the highlanders, Mizoram became the 23rd State of India on February 20, 1987 , after the signing of peace accord between the underground Mizo National Front (MNF) leader Shri Laldenga and the Government of India on June 30, 1986.

Mizoram often remarked as ‘Garden of peace’ is a mountainous State in the southern-most part of North Eastern India covering a total geographical area of 21,087 sq. kms. Its 722 kms long International boundaries touches the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh in the west and Myanmar in the east and south. Indian States of Manipur, Assam and Tripura are located on its north and northeast. According to 2001 census, the total population of the State was 8,91,058 only.

ELECTORATES :

Mizoram with a high of 88.49 literacy percentage has now an electorate strength of 6,11,124 voters. Female voters constitute 3,08,884 and male voters 3,02,240. Women voters outnumbered male voters.

Number of contestants :

This year there are 206 contestants, which include 71 for 14 seats in Aizawl district, 30 for 7 seats in Lunglei district, 11 for 2 seats in Saiha district, 16 for 3 seats in Lawngtlai district, 24 for 5 seats in Champhai district, 14 for 3 seats in Serchhip district, 22 for 3 seats in Mamit district and 18 for 3 seats in Kolasib district.

A total of 9 women candidates are in the fray. All major political parties have fielded women candidates. Only one seat – Aizawl East-I constituency is unreserved and the remaining are all ST reserved seats.

Election – Early years :

Mizoram witnessed the first General Election to the State Legislative Assembly which was held on 18.4.1972, three months after Mizoram became a Union Territory on 21.1.1972. 125 candidates contested for the 30 seats of Assembly constituencies. Congress (INC) and Socialist Party, both recognized parties contested 29 and 18 seats respectively. Two unrecognized parties – Mizo Union (MU) and Mizo Labour Party (MLP) contested 25 and 27 seats respectively. While 56 Independents contested. MU won 21 of the 30 seats and formed the first Ministry headed by Shri Ch. Chhunga on 3.5.1972. On 1.2.1975, MU merged with the Pradesh Congress Committee which captured 6 seats, later joined by 3 successful Independent candidates.

In the second General Election 1978, 154 candidates contested out of which Peoples’ Conference (PC) a recognized state party won 22 seats and Mizoram Congress Committee (MCC) and Independents shared the remaining 4 seats each. Brig. T. Sailo was sworn in as the second Chief Minister. However, his Ministry was toppled in a no-confidence motion moved by dissident PC MLAs and the 3rd General Election was held in 1979. 150 candidates contested. The seats won are : PC-18, PC(B)-4, Janata Party-2, INC-5. Brig. T. Sailo was sworn in again for the second time as the 3rd Chief Minister and lasted full term of five years.
A total of 138 candidates contested the Fourth General Election held in 1984. The seats won are INC-20, PC-8, Mizo Convention (Ind)- and Independent one each. Shri Lal Thanhawla was sworn in as the Chief Minister on 4.5.1984.
With the signing of the peace accord between the underground MNF and the Government of India on 30.6.1986. Shri Lal Thanhawla stepped down from Office to make way for an MNF-Congress (I) coalition Government on 2.1.1986. Shri Laldenga was sworn in as Chief Minister and Shri Lal Thanhawla as Deputy Chief Minister.

Mizoram became 23rd State of India on 20.2.1987 and 10 Assembly seats was increased making the total number of seats to 40. The first General Election to the Mizoram State Legislative Assembly was held on 16.2.1987. 145 candidates contested the election and the seats won are – IND-13, PC-3, MNF-24, Shri Laldenga successfully contested two constituencies (34-Aizawl North and 29-Sateek). MNF Leader Shri Laldenga was sworn in as the first Chief Minister of Mizoram State. In the second General Election to the Mizoram State Legislative Assembly held in 1989, 162 candidates contested. The seats won are INC-23, PC-1, MNF-14, MNF (Democratic)-2, Congress-I Ministry headed by Shri Lal Thanhawla was sworn in on 24.1.1989.
General Election scheduled to be held in 1994 had to be preponed owing to Gospel Centenary Celebration and was held in 30th November 1993. In 1993 general election , election scenario was rather interesting. For the first time, the congress formed an electoral alliance with a local party – the Peoples’ Conference (PC) led by Brig. T. Sailo. PC has joined Janata Dal after the 1989 election. However, prior to the 1993 election, it withdrew affiliation and named itself Mizoram Janata Dal (MJD) consequently forming an electoral alliance with the Congress-I. In this election, 121 candidates were in the fray. The seats secured are INC-16, MNF-14, PC(B)(Ind)-8, Independent-2. MJD led by Brig. T. Sailo and Congress-I led by Shri Lal Thanhawla formed a coalition government headed by Lal Thanhawla as Chief Minister.

The 4th General Election to the Mizoram State Legislative Assembly was held on 25th November 1998. This time the MNF-MPC combine captured 32 seats (MNF 21, MPC 11) while the INC secured 6 seats. The coalition Ministry headed by Zoramthanga was sworn in on 3rd December 1998. Lalhmingthanga, Working President of MPC became Deputy Chief Minister. The coalition Ministry came to an end on 9th December 1999. With the exit of the MPC MLA’s, the strength of the MNF member became 22 with one Independent supporter.

The 5th General Assembly was held on 20th November, 2003. MNF 21, INC 12, MPC 3, ZNP 2, Mara Democratic Front 1, Hmar People’s Convention 1. Zoramthanga was sworn in as Chief Minister for the second time on 4th December 2003. For the first time, Elector Voting Machine (EVM) was used in this election.

Assembly By-Elections :

So far, 9 Bye-Election have been held in Mizoram. The first Bye-Election was held in 1982 (19.5.1982) after 4 elected members of the People’s Conference ‘B’ vacated their seats in 1981. The second Bye-Election was held in the 1983 (8..4.1983) due to the murder of a P.C. MLA. In 1984, a candidate of the People’s Conference party for N. Vanlaiphai constituency was murdered and Bye-Election was held on 27..6.1984. 4th Bye-Election was held in 1987 for Sateek constituency due to dual membership of a candidate. In 1991, the fifth Bye-Election was held for Aizawl South-II and Aizawl West-II, due to the death of two MNF MLA’s and Tuipang due to nomination of member to Rajya Sabha. In 1999, the sixth Bye-Election was held for Khawbung constituency due to seat vacated by Mr. Zoramthanga. In 2004, Bye-Election was held for Kolasib due to dual membership of Zoramthanga.

In 2005, the eight Bye-Election was held for Kawrthah and Phuldungsei Constituencies as a result of the vacancies caused by the resignation of Mr. Saikapthiang MLA and Mr. Liansuama, MLA. The ninth Bye-Election was held on 30th October 2006 for Tlungvel Constituency due to the death of its MLA, Sainghaka and for Chawngte due to resignation of its MLA RM Chakma on account of Office of Profit controversy.

Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) - Presently, the EPIC coverage in Mizoram is 91 % which is the highest in the country. About 1500 nos. of electronic voting machine (EVM) are to be used this time.

Polling : There are 1,026 polling stations in Mizoram which include 79 sensitive polling stations.

The contest is expected to be neck to neck amongst the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), Indian National Congress (INC) and the newly formed United Dermocratic Alliance (UDA) consisting of the Mizoram Peoples Conference (MPC), Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) and Zoram Khuthnathawktu Pawl (ZKP). Present chief minister Zoramthanga , former Congress chief minister Lal Thanhawla and UDA dy. chief ministerial candidate Lalduhawma are all contesting in 2 (two) assembly constituencies each.Former chief minister Brig. T. Sailo, who is the UDA’s chief ministerial candidate is contesting in only one constituency.

Other parties :
Other contestants political parties includes - Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-9, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP)-39, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-6, Lok Bharati-6, Janata Dal United (JDU)-2. Altogether 29 Independents are in the fray.

A Unique Election :
The peculiar feature of this election in Mizoram is that all the political parties have agreed not to put up election posters and instead only banners/flags would be used. This has been strictly adhered to by all parties including independents. The influential Mizoram People Forum (MPF) appeals to the public and political parties – to exercise rightful franchise and to ensure free and fair poll, etc. The Election Commission had earlier appreciated Mizoram for the good work done in conducting elections peacefully.

In every constituencies throughout the State, the Mizoram People Forum (MPF) is arranging public platform to express their views, interaction, etc. for contestant in most of the localities (Vengs) irrespective of the political affiliations.

Media Scene :
The media scene in Mizoram is unique. With high percentage of literacy, most of the people in the State keep abreast of the latest in the election scene through the various means of mass media. There are more than 50 daily newspapers and more than 20 periodicals in the State. These papers provide extensive reading materials. Some of the editors are also associated with political parties. A few of them are contesting this election.

Inter Media Publicity Co-Ordination Committee (IMPCC), Mizoram have also selected ‘voters Rights’ and ‘free and fair Poll’ as its publicity campaign theme.

Three Cable Television Networks namely LPS, Skylink and Zonet through its cable service provide election update, discussion, joint interviews with candidates, etc. and received wide acclaim from the public.

Election related news are also regularly flashed through local media – AIR, DDK, PIB and the State DIPR has also set-up media centre at all the district headquarters . AIR Aizawl is also making arrangement for special election bulletin and Live-broadcast of the election results. Regional News unit (RNU) Doordarshan Aizawl is producing a 15-minute special election bulletin in Mizo from 6:30 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. daily besides its 5-minute daily news headlines at 5:30 p.m. -5:35 p.m. and 15-minute daily news bulletin from 7:00 p.m.-7:15 p.m. DSNG Van for DD News Live feed have also been pressed into service. Representative of Political Parties and Journalists are also invited for Live discussion and telecast at its News and Current Affairs Programme – ‘Zoram Thlirna’.

November-December is a fair and pleasant month in Mizoram. The Mizos are ready for a free and fair poll once again. (PIB).

* AD (M&C), PIB, Aizawl.
 

PIB Aizawl

 

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