AIZAWL GETS ITS FIRST
Transition from old to new at times is often painful and complex but the change of guard in the administration of Aizawl from the Village Councils which held sway from 1954 to the Municipal Council this year has been welcomed by all quarters of the population. Aizawl has finally graduated to a city in the true Constitutional sense as per the 74th Amendment of the Constitution with the election and subsequent constitution of the first Aizawl Municipal Council (AMC) in November. The efforts of the Mizoram Municipal Steering Committee (MMSC), informative writings on Municipal administration by the vibrant press of Aizawl, the enlightened spirit of the Aizawlites and the concerted unison of the state administration all have played their part well in the process of the historic establishment of the AMC.
The process got underway in 2007 when the Government passed the Mizoram Municipalities Act and an Amendment to the Act in 2010 gave it a head start paving the way finally for the birth of the Aizawl Municipal Council. On 20th September 2010, the State Election Commission (SEC) announced the election Schedule for the 19 Wards under the Aizawl Municipal Council during a press conference. The SEC also announced that Awards for Best Electoral Pgractices would be given in a bid to strengthen the cause of free and fair elections.
Voting took place as scheduled on 3rd November in 174 pollin stations across Aizawl using Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), as usual there were no incidents that stood in the way of free and fair polls – a feat that makes Mizoram proud in elections be it Assembly or Parliamentary. A noteworthy thing is that, out of the 19 Wards in the AMC, six have been reserved for women as per the 74th Amendment. This can be seen as a positive step towards empowerment of women in the Mizoram, where at present the Legislative Assembly does not have a woman legislator. Although most of the 45 candidates are relatively young and unknown faces in the field of politics, they are nevertheless very enthusiastic about the whole affair. The counting of votes was held on 4th November and the result of the election was declared in the afternoon. The Congress and its ally the Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) managed to garner 10 Wards while the remaining 9 Wards went to the Mizo National Front (MNF) and its ally the Mizoram Peoples’ Conference (MPC).
The swearing in ceremony of the 19 newly elected Councillors of the Council was held on the 16th of November at the Session Hall of the AMC located at Thuampui and was attended by a large number of Ministers and MLAs. C. T. Zakhuma, who represents Ward 15 of the AMC was elected as the first Chairman; Zarzoliana, Councillor of Ward 7 was elected the Vice Chairman and three Councillors - Lalzirliana, Hmingthanzami and F.Lalhuthangi were nominated as Executive Council Members, the last two being women. On being elected Chairman, C. T. Zakhuma was asked by a section of the press about the priority areas he had in mind for Aizawl, he responded by saying that drinking water, roads, traffic-jams and the supply of essential commodities were some issues that he thought were important and which need to be addressed as soon as possible.
As announced earlier in its press conference, the SEC gave out the Awards for Best Electoral Practices in five categories - Best Polling Party; Best Ward in observance of Model Code of Conduct; Highest Voter turn-out Polling Station and oldest Male & Female Voters at a function on the 18th of November. Khiangthuama, a 102 year old man from Chanmari West and Darthanmawii, a 101 year old lady were the awardees for the Oldest Male and Female Voter.
It may be mentioned that an NGO – Mizoram Peoples’ Forum, whose members are drawn largely from the church leaders played the role of a vigilant watchdog, ensuring the candidates’ adherence to accepted electioneering. The SEC played its part well too by ensuring adherence to the Moral Code of Conduct and bringing out strict directives on the publication of Opinion and Exit Polls in the course of the election process.
It may be said that a new era of development has finally dawned on the city of Aizawl – from a traditional administration to a city-centric administration from now on. The change that a majority of Aizawlites had wanted has come and now it is the duty of everyone in Aizawl to take the Council from infancy to maturity.