Aizawl: Polling for the by-elections to the Serchhip assembly seat in Mizoram will be held simultaneously with 2 parliamentary seats and 13 other assembly seats in various states on Saturday, an election official said.
Voting for the Serchhip seat will take place in 29 polling stations from 7 am to 7 pm as the Election Commission has extended the duration of the polling period by one hour following appeals by political parties and recommendation by the state chief electoral officer to enable all voters to exercise their franchise, he said.
As per the previous schedule, polling was supposed to be held from 7 am to 6 pm.
The official said that some political parties had recently again appealed to the Election Commission to at least extend the duration of the polling period after their pleas to defer the polling date and counting date was rejected by the poll panel.
He said that Central Armed Forces and state armed police have been deployed for the by-elections. There are no sensitive and vulnerable polling stations, he said.
The by-elections to Serchhip is necessitated by the disqualification of incumbent MLA Laduhoma under anti-defection law in November last year.
The high voltage campaign for the seat had ended at 7 pm on Friday. A total of 19,520 electorates, including 10,329 female voters will decide the fate of six candidates.
The by-elections are expected to witness a triangular fight among the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), main opposition Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and Congress.
The MNF has fielded its vice president and former Lok Sabha member Vanlalzawma, while ZPM has tipped its leader and disqualified MLA Lalduhoma and Congress fielded former student leader and party general secretary PC Laltlansanga.
BJP has fielded former state spokesperson and retired mining engineer Lalhriatrenga Chhangte, and the People’s Conference party fielded its vice president Vanlalruata.
It will be a litmus test for Lalduhoma as he will face two giant rivals to retain the seat.
Serchhip is a Congress bastion as former Chief Minister and state Congress president Lal Thanhawla had won the seat at least seven times since 1984.
The Congress president was defeated by MNF nominee K. Thangzuala in 1998 and again lost to Lalduhoma in the 2018 assembly polls.