Mizoram elections: Election Commission seeks names for Chief Electoral Officer’s post

Election Commission seeks names for Mizoram chief electoral officer’s post

The Election Commission Saturday initiated the process of finding an alternative to Mizoram chief electoral officer who is facing a massive agitation for his ouster by a conglomerate of civil society and student organisations.

A Commission spokesperson said that in a meeting held here Saturday, the poll panel has “only decided to call for a panel of names for the post of State CEO from chief secretary of Mizoram.” The spokesperson said “next steps” will “only be taken after receiving the report of the team led by Deputy Election Commissioner Sudip Jain”.

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State chief electoral officer S B Shashank had reportedly sought deployment of additional central armed police forces (CAPF) in the state and complained to the EC that the state’s former principal secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo was interfering with the poll process. Chuaungo, a native of Mizoram and a Gujarat-cadre IAS officer was relieved of his duties earlier this month.

The NGO Coordination Committee – a conglomerate of civil societies and student organisations – along with other political leaders, had been demanding Shashank’s exit from the state since then. The NGO also demanded that 11,232 Bru voters lodged in six Tripura relief camps be allowed to exercise their franchise at their respective polling stations in Mizoram and not in Tripura as committed by the poll panel in 2014. Meanwhile in Mizoram, the visiting Election Commission team led by Jain, has left for New Delhi on Saturday after holding talks with the stakeholders in view of the demands for removal of Mizoram Chief Election Officer Shashank, officials said.

The team would submit its report to the Election Commission, they said. The EC team met the NGO Coordination Committee, church leaders, IAS Association leaders and visited the Myanmar border at Champhai in Mizoram before leaving for Delhi, they said. This was the second EC team to visit the state to find a solution to the situation arising out of the demand for the removal of the CEO. Thousands of people had protested and organised a picketing in front of the CEO’s office for two days since Tuesday against the alleged intention of Shashank to facilitate exercise of franchise by Bru voters in the relief camps in Tripura.

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The protestors, under the aegis of the NGO Coordination Committee had also demanded the ouster of Shashank as CEO and to leave the state immediately which had prompted the EC to send the first team on Tuesday. He had left Mizoram on Wednesday after being summoned by Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat to Delhi which resulted in the withdrawal of agitation. The NGO Coordination Committee chief Vanlalruata had claimed on Friday that the visiting EC team during a meeting with the committee had agreed to its demand for immediate removal of Shashank, seen by the committee as a Bru sympathiser. He had also said that the EC team had agreed to stick to the commitment made by the poll panel in April 2014 that Bru voters who are staying in Tripura would exercise their franchise in Mizoram and not in the relief camps of that state.

The four-member EC team, headed by Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain, did not speak to the press. Thousands of people from the Bru community had fled Mizoram in 1997 following ethnic clashes. They have since been lodged in six relief camps in Tripura. Election to the 40-member Mizoram Assembly will be held on November 28. As many as 211 contestants have filed nominations for the elections.

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Source: Financial Express