MIZORAM CHIEF Minister Lal Thanhawla on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking the “removal” of the state’s chief electoral officer, S B Shashank, saying this was the “only solution” for conducting the polls smoothly.
Last week, after Shashank complained of “direct interference” by the state government in preparation for the November 28 polls, the Election Commission (EC) ordered the removal of Mizoram Principal Secretary, Home Department, L Chuaungo.
“Making an excuse the mandate of the Election Commission of India at the slightest opportunity, his (Shashank’s) complete failure to take his own colleagues into confidence and his style of functioning has led to this impasse. And this has triggered the ire of the civil society, including the Mizoram People’s Forum (MPF), a joint action committee of the churches and leading NGOs of the state,” the CM said in his letter.
“With the complete loss of confidence in him by the people, the only solution for smooth conduct of Assembly elections 2018 now would be removal of Shri S B Shashank, CEO, from his office forthwith,” he said.
Shashank said he was “not aware” about the letter. In a signed press statement on Monday, Shashank again alleged interference by Chuaungo in carrying out electoral roll revision for displaced Brus. “Found interfering into process of security management of conduct of election,” he said.
While the CM did not mention the Bru issue in his letter to the PM, he elaborated on it in his letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh on November 3. “The civil society does not take it lightly and we in government also fully support their longstanding demand that the Brus now living in Tripura transit camps should come and cast their votes inside Mizoram, like every other Mizo does from outside the state at the time of elections,” he wrote.
As reported by The Indian Express on November 1, Shashank, in a letter dated October 29, had highlighted the “active role” played by Chuaungo in the government’s alleged intrusion in electoral roll revision and deployment of central armed police forces.
On July 3, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced that a repatriation agreement had been signed by the governments of Mizoram and Tripura and the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), bringing an end to a 21-year wait for 32,000-odd Bru tribals, who were displaced from Mizoram following ethnic clashes and took refuge in Tripura. Only 180-odd people returned.
Lal Thanhawla, in his letter to Singh, wrote that “vested interests” in Tripura camps were dissuading people from returning.
MBDPF president A Sawibunga said the 10,000-odd voters in the camps want polling booths there, because they don’t want to travel for two days to vote and also fear a law and order problem.