Two days after Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla sought the removal of the state’s chief electoral officer, S B Shashank, the Election Commission on Wednesday summoned the CEO. Shashank said he would meet the poll panel on Thursday in Delhi, even as hundreds of members of the Young Mizo Association (YMA) continued their protests in front of the CEO’s office.
On Monday, Thanhawla, in his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said Shashank’s removal was the “only solution” for conducting the polls smoothly and several NGOs have backed the proposal, citing his alleged bias for ‘Bru’ voters and removal of Principal Secretary (Home) Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, a native of the state.
The protests, which entered the second day, saw the CM being unable to file his nomination papers in Serchhip as agitators gheraoed the office of the returning officer. Additional Deputy Commissioner Chuauhnuna told PTI that the CM had to change his plan to file nominations in his home turf. The chairman of the NGO Coordination Committee, Vanlalruata, said the picketing would be called off only after the departure of Shashank.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission three-member committee, led by Jharkhand CEO L Khiangte, which was dispatched to the state on Tuesday to resolve the issue, failed to break the deadlock following a meeting with state government officials and leaders of the NGO Coordination Committee. The team members said that they would submit their findings to the commission.
In a letter to the EC, the Federation of Mizoram Government Employees and Workers had threatened that unless Shashank was transferred out of the state before 4 pm on November 9, its members would not cooperate in the conduct of polls. Speaking to The Indian Express, Shashank said he did nothing illegal.
“I have done nothing wrong or illegal. I appeal to the state’s civil society to understand my position and see that I was doing my job. If I have hurt anyone, I am sorry,” he said. On November 1, Shashank had complained to the EC of “direct interference” by the state in the preparation for polls.
Vanlalruata said Shashank should be transferred from Mizoram and the Bru voters in the Tripura relief camps should exercise their franchise in their respective polling stations in Mizoram. Thousands of people from the Bru community fled Mizoram in the late 1990s following ethnic clashes.
The state observed a bandh Tuesday in response to a call by the Mizoram Merchants’ Association (MMA) to extend support to the agitation. Election to the 40-member Mizoram Assembly is scheduled for November 28.