AIZAWL — Polling began on Wednesday morning for the 40-member state Assembly amid tight security in Mizoram, where Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla is seeking a third consecutive term and the BJP looking to uproot the Congress in its last bastion in the North East.
The voting process started at 7 am and will continue till 4 pm, election office sources said.
A total of 7,70,395 electorates, which includes 3,94,897 female voters, would seal the fates of 209 candidates — 15 of them women, the sources said.
Long queues of enthusiastic voters were seen outside many polling stations early in the day.
Former chief minister and opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) chief Zoramthanga was among the first ones to exercise franchise at 7 am.
Zoramthanga cast his vote at Ramhlun polling booth in Aizawl North-II constituency.
Meanwhile, Bru voters from six relief camps in North Tripura district arrived at Kanhmun village, along Mizoram-Tripura border, where 15 temporary polling stations were erected around 6 am.
The voters had to walk around 500 metres from the interstate border to reach the polling stations, where members of local civil societies welcomed them with pork curry.
Altogether, 47 of 1,179 polling booths have been classified as 'critical' and as many as 'vulnerable' by the Election Commission.
The election office sources said 40 companies of central armed police force in addition to the state police force have been deployed to ensure free and fair polls.
Each constituency has one polling booth exclusively for women voters, manned by women polling and security personnel. These booths have been named after a flower called 'Dingdi'.
While the ruling Congress and the main opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) are contesting all 40 seats, the BJP has fielded candidates in 39 constituencies.
Zoram People's Movement (ZPM), a conglomerate of two political parties — the Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) and Mizoram People's Conference (MPC) — and five other groups, are in the fray for 35 seats.
Zoramthar, an unregistered political party, has fielded candidates in 13 constituencies, while the National People's Party and the Nationalist Congress Party are contesting eight seats and five seats respectively. Six independents are also in the fray.
Borders with neighbouring countries Myanmar and Bangladesh and states Tripura, Assam and Manipur have been sealed since Sunday in view of the polls.