Voting begins for Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram on Wednesday to elect new state Assemblies. While voting is being held in 230 constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram is voting to elect 40 members to its new assembly.
In Madhya Pradesh, 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 Congress party, which has been in power in Mizoram since 2008, is eyeing a third consecutive term in the state.
The two states will witness a single phase election and results will be declared on December 11.
1.80 lakh security personnel, including those drawn from central paramilitary forces, have been deployed on duty to ensure peaceful polling in the state, where the ruling BJP and opposition Congress will vie for supremacy.
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. 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.
Addressing a press conference Tuesday, State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) 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.
“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.
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 (LJD).
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 (AAP), 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.
Polling 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 uproot the Congress in its last bastion in the Northeast.
The Congress and the Mizoram National Party (MNF) have ruled Mizoram 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 (MNF), 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 (ZPM), 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 (EVMs) will be used in the polling that would begin at 7 am and end at 4 pm.
The authorities have decided to connect all polling booths through wireless communication for the first time leaving no “shadow areas” at all.
Mizoram, having a difficult hilly terrain, is going for assembly elections on Wednesday to elect 40 MLAs.
“For the first time in Mizoram’s election history, all polling booths will be covered by wireless communication. It will help in timely reporting of every development and progress of the polling,” Mizoram Deputy Inspector General of Police (Training & Armed Branch) Joseph Lalchhuana told PTI in an interview.
Till the last election in 2014 for the Lok Sabha, not all areas were connected through wirless technology and there was a delay in receiving information from far-flung booths, he added.
“The total sanctioned strength of Mizoram Police is around 13,000 personnel, but we have around 9,000 persons at present. They all will be involved in the poll process,” the DIG said.
Mizoram Police is being assisted in its poll-related activities by 40 companies of central armed police forces (CAPF), comprising personnel from BSF, SSB, CRPF and Assam Police.