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Aizawl, Nov 26: It is hard to believe that Mizoram goes to the polls in less than a fortnight. There is no customary fanfare associated with elections to be seen or heard here. Party flags can be seen occasionally and are mainly those of the Congress, which is usually given its full name here, the Indian National Congress (INC).

However, while the state goes to the polls in December, some of its electorate has already cast its vote. These are the Bru tribals now in Tripura, who cast their votes in two phases, the first on November 24. The second round will be held on November 26, Lalmalsawma, chief electoral officer, Mizoram, said.

"We have clubbed them into two categories, with three camps in south Tripura and three camps in north Tripura. For the duration of the postal ballot, we will send two teams, one based in Mizoram to cover the north Tripura camps and the other based in Kanchanpur sub-division for the other camp," he said.

Mizoram's just under 6 lakh electorate comprises 3.08 lakh women voters and 2.90 lakh men. However, despite women voters out-numbering the men, there are only nine women candidates of a total of 206 candidates contesting the 40 seats.

The Congress is fielding 40 candidates, the Mizo National Front (MNF) 39, Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janata Party (LJP) 39, the United Democratic Front (UDA) 38, with 36 Independents. This is the first time there are so many Independents, mainly people who were denied tickets by their respective parties.

While the state's chief electoral officer admitted to some worries over the movement of armed insurgent groups from Manipur into Mizoram, he said the EC has turned down the state's request for additional security. The Assam Rifles mans the international border with Burma and the Border Security Force is deployed on the Bangladesh border. The low decibel campaign, local residents claim, is the norm and not an aberration.

"Door to door campaigning is frowned upon since it makes it easier for candidates to use money power. Instead, candidates hold street corner meetings where voters can ask questions. Also, candidates are using cable television to hold debates moderated by journalists," said a resident. The televised debates are civil and each candidate is allowed a full say with no interruptions or raised voices.

Source: The Economic Times

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