Voting began in 40 constituencies of Mizoram at 7 am on Wednesday for its Assembly elections, while in Madhya Pradesh, voting started at 8 am. Voting ends in Mizoram at 4 pm and in Madhya Pradesh’s 230 seats at 5 pm.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is in power in Madhya Pradesh while the Congress rules Mizoram. The results will be declared on December 11.
The Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram over November and December will set the mood for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Around 5.04 lakh people are eligible to vote in the state, PTI reported. According to the Election Commission, 2,907 candidates, including 1,102 Independents, are contesting the elections to the 230-member Assembly.
The BJP is contesting all 230 seats, while the Congress has fielded 229 candidates, leaving one seat – Jatara in Tikamgarh district – for its ally Loktantrik Janata Dal led by Sharad Yadav. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party has fielded 227 candidates, while the Samajwadi Party is contesting 51 seats. The Aam Aadmi Party is contesting the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections for the first time and has fielded 208 candidates.
The state has had a BJP government for the past 15 years. At present, the BJP holds 165 seats while the Congress has 58, followed by the Bahujan Samaj Party with four and Independent candidates holding the rest.
Among the major topics that are likely to have an influence over the elections are the protests by farmers in June 2017, demanding loan waivers and fair prices for crops. The agitation turned violent after police opened fire and five farmers were killed. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched a crop price scheme whereas the Congress has promised farm loan waivers in its manifesto.
The state also witnessed violent clashes during the Bharat Bandh in April against a Supreme Court order on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The Congress has also been targetting the ruling BJP with the Vyapam scam as well.
A total of 209 candidates are contesting the elections to the 40-member Mizoram Assembly. Over 7.7 lakh voters are expected to cast their votes in the state, PTI reported.
Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla of the Congress is seeking a third consecutive term, while the BJP is looking to defeat the Congress. Mizoram is the only Congress-ruled state in the North East region.
The Congress and the Mizoram National Party have ruled Mizoram since 1987 when it became a full-fledged state. In the 2013 elections, the Congress won 34 seats, while Mizo National Front got five and the Mizoram People’s Conference won one seat.
This year, the Congress and the Mizoram National Party have fielded 40 candidates each, while the BJP has fielded 39 candidates. The Zoram Peoples Movement – an alliance formed by two political parties and four groups – is contesting in 35 seats.
The state has witnessed protests by civil society groups over Chief Electoral Officer SB Shashank’s alleged role in the transfer of Principal Home Secretary L Chuaungo. The Election Commission transferred Chuaungo after Shashank accused him and the state’s Congress government of interfering with the revision of the electoral rolls ahead of the Assembly elections on November 28.
The agitators objected to Shashank’s decision to make special arrangements for Bru refugees from Mizoram to vote at their camps in Tripura. They want the refugees to vote at their respective polling stations in Mizoram. The protest were called off after the chief electoral officer was transferred out of Mizoram.