Chhattisgarh and Mizoram kicked off the month-long assembly elections cycle on Tuesday to vote for their next government. While in the first phase, Chhattisgarh voted for 20 seats out of the 90-member assembly, the 40-member Mizoram assembly underwent polling in a single phase.
In Chhattisgarh, the fight is mainly between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. On the other hand, in Mizoram, these two parties are not the sole contenders. The Mizo National Front (MNF) and Zoram Peoples' Movement (ZPM) have a stronghold in the northeastern state.
In Chhattisgarh, voting was held on 10 seats during 7 am-3 pm and the timings for the other 10 seats were 8 am-5 pm. In Mizoram, the timings were 7 am-4 pm.
Here are the top updates from both the elections:
Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections 2023
The voting on 20 seats in the first phase of the Chhattisgarh assembly elections took place amid a thick security blanket. Around 60,000 security personnel, including specialised anti-Maoist commandoes, have been deployed.
As voting began across 20 seats on Tuesday, several of them in Naxal-affected Bastar division, in Chhattisgarh, a commando of CoBRA, an elite unit of CRPF, was injured in an IED blast allegedly triggered by Naxalites, PTI reported.
The incident occurred when a joint team of CRPF and Commando Battalions for Resolute Action (CoBRA) 206th battalion was out on an area domination operation from Tondamarka camp towards Elmagunda village to ensure security during polls, a senior police official said.
As of 3 pm, 60.92 per cent voter turnout was recorded in 20 constituencies, 12 of which were in the Moaist-affected Bastar division. So far, women voters outnumber men in seats covered under the first phase of polling. Among the early voters were two state ministers Kawasi Lakhma (Konta seat) and Mohan Markam (Kondagaon), sitting Congress MLAs Chandan Kashyap (Narayanpur) and Savitri Mandavi (Bhanupratappur), all Congress candidates from their respective seats.
In the first phase, the fate of 223 candidates, including 25 women, will be decided by an estimated 40,78,681 voters, comprising 19,93,937 male, 20,84,675 female and 69 third-gender persons.
There were reports of a brief exchange of fire between Naxalites and security personnel near Banda polling station in Sukma district. Another encounter reportedly took place between security forces and Naxalites in Orchha police station area of Narayanpur district. However, police said that there were no injuries to security personnel in these two incidents.
The Congress holds 19 of these 20 seats, including two it won in bypolls. In the 2018 Assembly polls, the Congress had won 17 of these 20 seats, the BJP two and the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh one.
Meanwhile, while addressing a rally in Surajpur district of Chhattisgarh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at the Congress for failing to contain Naxalism in the state and claimed that whenever the party comes to power at the Centre, Naxalites and terrorists get emboldened. The Congress on the other hand, has based its campaign on the slew of welfare schemes of the Baghel government for farmers, women, tribals and Dalits as well as a promise to waive farm loans if it retains power. Read more here.
Mizoram Assembly Elections 2023
As of 3 pm, Mizoram recorded a voter turnout of 69.78 per cent. Voting will continue in all 1,276 polling stations across Mizoram till 4 pm.
Technical glitches in EVM were reported from a polling station in Aizawl where Chief Minister Zoramthanga went to exercise his franchise. Of the 11 districts, Serchhip recorded the highest polling percentage of 77.78, followed by Khawzawl at 77.12 and Hnahthial at 74.96 till 3 pm.
The lowest turnout was recorded in Siaha at 52.02 per cent. Aizawl district (65.06) per cent and Saitual (68.08) also posted lower voting percentages compared to others.
Mizoram Additional Chief Electoral Officer H Lianzela said polling has been "peaceful and there has been no law and order issue till now". However, a 65-year-old social activist staged a hunger strike in the northeastern state against the Election Commission’s “silence” over the demand for rescheduling the day of the counting of votes. Lalbiakthanga, popularly known as the "walkathon man", had written to the EC urging the poll panel to reschedule the counting date, December 3, as it will clash with Sunday church programmes.
The ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), main opposition party Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) and Congress have fielded 40 candidates each. The BJP and debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are contesting in 23 and 4 seats, respectively. There are 27 candidates, who are contesting as independents.
Out of the two primary contenders -- MNF and opposition ZPM -- ruling party MNF tried to capitalise on issue of refugees and internally displaced people from Myanmar, Bangladesh and Manipur and Mizo sub-nationalism. The party also highlighed the development in the state over the last five years despite financial constraints triggered by the pandemic.
The opposition highlighted the failure of the MNF government in fulfilling its promises, including implementation of the flagship programme, Socio Economic Development (SEDP), construction of flyovers, good roads, among others. Read more here.