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Congress retains power in Mizoram

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Congress retains power in Mizoram
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Aizawl: The Congress Monday won a thumping victory in Mizoram, a state that it gets to rule now for the second consecutive term.

The Congress retained power by zooming past the halfway mark in the 40-member assembly by winning 27 seats and being ahead in at least one more constituency.

Congress leader and Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, 71, was elected to the state assembly for a record ninth time.

This is for the fifth time the Congress has come to power in the northeastern state of Mizoram, which shares borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh. In the outgoing assembly, the Congress had 32 seats.

"There was not a single instance of irregularities of our government. People voted us seeing the success of our government," Lal Thanhawla, who is also the state Congress chief, said after the emphatic win.

Lal Thanhawla established the Congress base in the tribal and Christian dominated state.

Thousands of Congress activists celebrated here and across the state as election results began to pour in.

According to election officials at about 6 p.m., Congress candidates won 27 seats and were leading in one seat while the opposition three-party Mizoram Democratic Alliance (MDA) led by the Mizo National Front (MNF) has won four seats and Mizoram People's Conference was leading on one seat in this state of over one million people.

The Nationalist Congress Party candidate was also leading on one seat.

Lal Thanhawla contested from two constituencies and won both Serchhip and Hrangturzo seats, defeating his nearest MNF and Mizoram People's Conference (MPC) rivals.

Lal Thanhawla, who with this election has been elected to the state assembly for a record nine times since 1978, defeated his nearest MNF rival C. Lalramzauva, a lawyer and a three-term former legislator, in Serchhip by a margin of 734 votes while he retained the Hrangturzo seat beating MPC opponent Lalthansanga by 1,628 votes.

The only non-Mizo Congress candidate and Chakma tribe leader, Buddha Dhan Chakma won the Tuichawng seat in southern Mizoram, beating MNF nominee Rasik Mohan Chakma by a big margin of 8,726 votes.

Unlike the last assembly polls in 2008, the Congress did well in both southern and northern Mizoram, which shares borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh.

MNF candidate Lalrinawma wrested the Tuikum seat, defeating Congress aspirant K. Lianzuala by a thin margin of only 14 votes.

"Under tight security blanket, counting of ballots has been underway in eight district headquarters simultaneously since 8 a.m.," Mizoram Joint Chief Electoral Officer H. Lalengmawia told IANS.

Over 81 percent of the total 690,860 voters exercised their franchise across the state Nov 25 to elect a new 40-member assembly.

The main poll battle was between the ruling Congress and opposition coalition MDA, comprising Mizo National Front (MNF), Mizoram People's Conference (MPC) and Maraland Democratic Front (MDF), all regional and local parties.

MDA's constituents MNF, MPC and MDF have fielded candidates for 31, eight and one seat respectively.

With little base in the Christian dominated northeastern state, the Bharatiya Janata Party put up 17 candidates, Zoram Nationalist Party named 38 candidates and the Nationalist Congress Party had two aspirants.

Of the 40 assembly seats, 39 are reserved for tribals. One seat is for the general category.

Reang tribal refugees, sheltered in seven camps in Tripura for the past 16 years, have cast their votes in Tripura through postal ballots for the Mizoram assembly polls.

During the last assembly elections in December 2008, the Congress won 32 seats, the MNF three and the MDF one. The MPC and ZNP got two seats each.

The MNF, which ruled the state for 10 years till 2008, is the principal opposition party.

With a total population of 1,091,014, Mizoram is the only state in India where women voters outnumber men by 9,806 in the total electorate of 690,860.

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