The Election Commission (EC) has shot down BJP’s request for extending the last date for filing nomination in Mizoram. BJP state president JV Hluna, in a letter submitted to the Commission on Wednesday, had sought an extension on account of the unrest in the state.
Civil society groups in Mizoram have been demanding the removal of the state’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) SB Shashank. The protests, however, have been called off temporarily after the CEO was summoned to Delhi by the EC for a meeting on Thursday.
Replying to his letter on Thursday, the EC informed Hluna that his request “has not been acceded to on account of peace and normalcy in the state”. The last date for nomination remains the same – November 9.
Mizoram goes to poll along with Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh. The state will vote in a single phase on November 28 and its results will be announced together with the four states on December 11.
As first reported by The Indian Express on November 1, Shashank had complained to the EC of “direct interference” by the state in the preparation for polls following which the Commission ordered the removal of Mizoram Principal Secretary (Home Department), L Chuaungo.
Chuaungo’s removal irked the state government, political parties and civil society of the state. On Monday, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding Shashank’s removal.
In his complaint, Shashank had alleged insensitivity on part of the state regarding the voting rights of the displaced Bru community, which is based in relief camps in Tripura, and referred to the “active role” played by Chuaungo in the revision of electoral rolls and deployment of central.
EC has been defending Shashank and the decision to replace Chuaungo. The Commission justified the decision to remove him in its letter to the office of the Mizoram Chief Minister sent on Monday.
The missive, addressed to the principal secretary to CM Lalram Thanga, states that the Commission’s decision was taken “only after observing in great detail the sequence of events over the past two months”.
It reiterates that Chuaungo’s letter, dated September 13, to District Election Officers of Mamit instructing them to not consider the identification slips for any purpose other than repatriation of refugees was nothing but to “interference in the process of elections”.