The Election Commission (EC) ordered the removal of Mizoram principal secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo on Friday, after the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), S B Shashank, complained of “direct interference” by the state government in preparation for the November 28 Assembly polls.
As first reported by The Indian Express on November 1, in a letter dated October 29, the CEO had highlighted the “active role” played by Chuaungo — who heads the Home and Finance departments — in abetting the government’s intrusion in electoral roll revision and deployment of central armed police forces. Closer to elections, the letter had warned, Chuaungo’s direct or indirect interference is likely to increase.
The state government received Chuaungo’s transfer orders from the Commission on Friday. “The Election Commission is satisfied that the continuance of Mr. Lalnunmawia Chuaungo as Principal Secretary (Home) in State Government of Mizoram will have adverse impact on conduct of smooth, free and fair election process in Mizoram,” the EC order states.
Chuaungo, a 1987-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, has been serving in Mizoram on an inter-cadre deputation from Gujarat, approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The EC also directed that he should be relieved of his current responsibilities with immediate effect and not be assigned any work related to the state till the elections are over.
Shashank’s missive had alleged insensitivity on part of the state government regarding voting rights of Bru refugees living in Tripura.
The CEO has cited interference of the department of home affairs in the electoral revision process by asking the District Election Officers not to consider the identification slips for any purpose other than repatriation of refugees. The Mizoram government, Shashank is learnt to have said, did not seem keen to have any new Bru voters enrolled.