The campaigning for the November 28 Mizoram Assembly elections is on in full swing, though the notification for polling to the 40-member House is yet to be issued.
The stakes are high this time as Mizoram is the only north-eastern state which has a Congress government and the BJP, which is upbeat after ousting the CPI(M) from Tripura, is keen on making inroads in the Christian-dominated state.
Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, his cabinet colleagues and top Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee leaders have already hit the campaign trail, and so has former CM Zoramthanga of the main opposition, the MNF - part of the BJP-headed NEDA (North East Democratic Alliance).
With major political parties announcing the names of almost all candidates, party leaders, star campaigners and workers are carrying out door-to-door canvassing under the watchful eyes of the Mizoram People's Forum (MPF), which has been formed by different churches and NGOs for electoral reformation.
The MPF, which had prohibited door-to-door campaigning in the earlier elections, has allowed it this time but with a rider -- the campaigners have to be accompanied by local leaders of the outfit to ensure that no money changes hands --sources in the organisation said.
Political parties have agreed to curtail a number of poll campaign strategies, and the guidelines laid down are deemed to be more stringent than the model code of conduct of the Election Commission, the sources said.
Joint platforms have been organised in the towns and villages of the north-eastern state, and these are being chaired by local MPF leaders, while individual candidates are holding public meetings to woo voters.
The ruling Congress has announced the candidates for all the 40 seats. The MNF also declared names for all the seats, except for Tuichawng, which falls within the Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC).
This was due to the diktat of the powerful NGO Coordination Committee, a conglomerate of major civil societies and student bodies, asking political parties not to field any candidate belonging to the Chakma community, MNF sources said.
The civil societies are of the opinion that CADC was created unconstitutionally to harbour illegal immigrants from erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and have been demanding scrapping of CADC, sources in the committee said.
While the Zoram People's Movement, an alliance of two small political parties and five other groups have announced the names of 35 candidates, the BJP has declared only 13 names so far.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has said it would contest at least five seats, but is yet to announce the names.
The National People's Party (NPP), too, is yet to state the number of seats it would contest.
The gazette notification for Mizoram Assembly poll is scheduled on November 2 and the last date for filing nominations is November 9.
The date for scrutiny of nominations is scheduled for November 12 and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures is November 14, the Election Commission said.
The counting of votes in Mizoram will take place on December 11 along with Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana, the poll body added.