Church groups in Christian-majority Mizoram have requested the poll panel to change the dates for polling and counting in the state in view of church conferences, while the state’s main opposition party has sought the removal of the state’s chief electoral officer for “irresponsible behaviour”.
A statement by a church organisation said the churches demanded change in the polling date (Dec 4) as it falls on the day when the Presbyterian Church of India is having its highest decision-making conference, the Synod, between Dec 3 and 8.
The United Pentecostal Church-Mizoram is also scheduled to hold its annual general conference during the same period which would result in thousands of people, including priests, unable to exercise their franchise, it added.
Church leaders led by Rev Lalzuithanga, executive secretary of the Mizoram Synod of the Presbyterian Church, last week met the state’s chief electoral officer and told him that on the polling day, a council meeting of the highest authority of the church would be held.
“The church leaders also told the CEO that Dec 8, the day of counting of ballots, is Sunday, which is a holy day for Christians. If the counting is held on the day, it will be inconvenient for the community and will also hurt the sentiments of the people,” a statement said Friday.
The church leaders sent a separate letter to the Election Commission of India seeking a change in the polling and counting dates in Mizoram.
Though Mizoram CEO Ashwani Kumar was not immediately available for comments, a senior official of the state election department told IANS that any change in the election schedule can only be done by the Election Commission.
The Mizo National Front (MNF), meanwhile, demanded that Ashwani Kumar be removed from office for his “irresponsible behaviour”.
MNF general secretary Lalruatkima made the demand in a letter to Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath.
“Kumar acted childishly and irresponsibly in a recent meeting with leaders of the political parties, church bodies and NGOs while discussing change of dates of polling and counting of ballots of the Mizoram polls,” he said in his letter.
Polling to the 40-member state assembly would be held Dec 4 while counting of votes would be held Dec 8, along with four other states where assembly polls will be held during November and December.