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Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram ready for polls; Congress, BJP vie for supremacy

Source: PTI
November 27, 2018 22:22 IST
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In MP, the Congress is hoping for a comeback, while in Mizoram, the BJP looking to defeat the Congress in its last bastion in the Northeast.

IMAGE: Election officials leave for their respective polling stations after collecting electronic voting machine ahead of the state assembly elections. Photograph: PTI Photo

Madhya Pradesh is all set to vote on Wednesday to elect a 230-member assembly, with 1.80 lakh security personnel deployed on duty to ensure peaceful polling in the state, where the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and opposition Congress will vie for supremacy.

Similarly, voting in Mizoram will be held on Wednesday with over 7.70 lakh voters expected to exercise their franchise in the state where Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla is seeking a third consecutive term and the BJP looking to defeat the Congress in its last bastion in the Northeast.


In MP, the BJP is eyeing a fourth straight term in office, while the Congress is hoping for a comeback in the state which was once its stronghold.

The battle of ballots in Madhya Pradesh is just months ahead of the Lok Sabha polls slated in the first half of 2019.

As many as 2,899 candidates, including 1,094 independents, are in the fray for the 230 seats, but the main contest is between the Congress and BJP - the Big Two of MP politics.

The state has 5.04 crore eligible voters.

Addressing a press conference Tuesday, state chief electoral officer V L Kantha Rao said, "All preparations for the Wednesday polling have been completed. All polling parties have left for their respective booths and most of them have reached their destination".

He said polling will be held from 8 am to 5 pm in 227 seats, while in three assembly segments in Naxal-affected Balaghat district -- Lanji, Paraswada and Baihar -- voting time will be from 7 am to 3 pm.

Rao said 3,00,782 government employees, including 45,904 women, have been deployed on poll duty across the state, where 65,341 polling stations have been set up.

The CEO said 17,000 of these polling booths have been declared 'sensitive' and additional vigil will be maintained there.

As many as 1.80 lakh security personnel, including those drawn from central paramilitary forces, have been deployed to ensure free and fair poll, Rao said.

"Special measures have been taken for sensitive booths. Webcasting will be held from 6,500 polling stations, while videography will be carried out at 4,600 booths," he said.

Rao said 78,870 EVMs will be used during the poll.

He said physically challenged employees will manage 160 booths, while 3,046 polling centres will have all-women staff.

"As many as 40,487 vehicles, including 9,600 buses and 8,500 mini buses are being used in the polling process," Rao said.

Among the 2,899 candidates, 250 are women and five are from the third gender, the CEO said.

"The candidates include 1,794 from general category, 591 from Scheduled Castes and 514 from Scheduled Tribes. The highest number of seven female candidates are contesting from Chhatarpur, where 16 candidates are in the fray," Rao said.

The highest number of candidates - 34 - are in the fray in the Mehgaon constituency in Bhind district, while the lowest - 4 - is at Gunnor in Panna district," he said.

According to the final electoral roll, the state has 5,04,95,251 voters - 2,63,01,300 males, 2,41,30,390 females, 1,389 third gender and 62,172 postal electors.

The BJP is contesting all the 230 seats, while the Congress has fielded 229 candidates, leaving one seat, Jatara in Tikamgarh district, for its ally -- Sharad Yadav's Loktantrik Janata Dal.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, in office since 2005, is seeking re-election from Budhni in Sehore district.

The BSP has fielded 227 candidates, while the SP is contesting on 52 seats.

The Aam Aadmi Party, contesting the Madhya Pradesh elections for the first time, has fielded 208 candidates.

In reply to a question, Rao said so far Rs 100 crore, out of the Rs 411 crore budget, has been spent on the polling process.

In the last assembly polls, the BJP had won 165 seats, the Congress 58, the BSP four and the independents three seats.

In Mizoram, the Congress and the Mizoram National Party have ruled the state since 1987 when it became a full-fledged state.

Interestingly, no party has been able to form government thrice since that year.

Elections to the 40-member assembly in Mizoram, which has a population of about 10 lakh, is significant for the BJP that considers it to be the 'final frontier' in the region.

In the 2013 elections, the Congress had won 34 seats, while its main opposition, the Mizo National Front, got five and the Mizoram People's Conference bagged one seat.

The Congress and the MNF have fielded 40 candidates each, while the BJP is contesting in 39 seats.

The Zoram Peoples Movement, an alliance formed by two political parties and four groups, is contesting in 35 seats.

A total of 209 candidates are in fray for the November 28 polls and the fate of the candidates would be decided by 7,70,395 voters, which include 3,94,897 women.

Electronic voting machines will be used in the polling that would begin at 7 am and end at 4 pm.

Ahead of elections, the state witnessed intense protests by civil society groups over the place of voting for 12,026 Bru voters. The issue led to replacement of Chief Electoral Officer SB Shashank in less than two weeks before the polls.

Ashish Kundra, who replaced Shashank, said on Monday that the Election Commission has made extensive preparations for the Brus lodged in six relief camps of Tripura to cast their votes at Kanhmun village in Mamit district where 15 temporary polling stations have been set up. The village is located on the state's border with Tripura.

"The people of Kanhmun village have even erected a welcome gate at the border expressing heartiest welcome to Bru voters," Kundra said.

Campaigning in the state saw paradigm shift this election season with political parties making extensive use of social media platforms like Facebook and Whatsapp to woo young voters.

The ruling Congress banked heavily for the elections on its flagship New Land Use Policy, which brought the party to power for two consecutive terms.

The campaign had reached its peak in the final week with the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

Other prominent leaders who campaigned in the state included Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh, National People's Party leader and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma.

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