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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Mizoram: Church, civil society, parties oppose vote counting on a Sunday

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Frustrated with the Election Commission of India’s “long silence” on their demand for changing the counting date for the upcoming Mizoram Assembly polls, the powerful lobbies including the church have decided to step up their protest, a spokesperson said on Friday.

Besides the Church, the civil society and the political parties want to ensure the counting of votes does not take place on December 3, which is a Sunday – a sacred day for the state’s majority Christian community.

A meeting convened by the Mizoram Kohhran Hruaitute Committee (MKHC), a conglomerate of leaders of major church denominations in the state, NGO Coordination Committee (NGOCC) and Mizoram People’s Forum (MPF) – a church-sponsored election watchdog – and representatives of political parties on Thursday night here decided that the MKHC will submit another appeal to the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Madhup Vyas on Friday.

“The appeal to change the date for counting of votes, which falls on Sunday, the sacred day for a high majority of the poll-bound Christian-dominated state, will again be given to the CEO. We are expecting to hear the response of the central poll panel within 24 hours,” one of the NGOCC leaders said on Friday.

He said another joint meeting will be held after the expiry of the 24-hour deadline which will decide on the future course of action. NGOCC is an umbrella organisation of all the major civil societies and student bodies – Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), Mizo Students’ Federation and Mizo Students’ Union (MSU).

The appeal will be sent to the election authorities to change the date of counting of votes from December 3 to December 4 or 5, he said.

“We will make the final decision after the lapse of the 24-hour deadline. Though we do not know what decision will be made on the future course of actions, it is most likely that counting of votes will not happen in Mizoram on December 3 (Sunday),” he added.

All the major political parties in the state, including the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), Congress and BJP have submitted appeals to the ECI to defer the date of counting of votes. The NGOCC, obtaining signatures of all the political parties, civil societies and student organisations, also submitted an appeal to the central poll panel through the state CEO.

The MKHC and other individual church denominations also submitted letters opposing the date of counting and appealing for scheduling another date which should not be a l on Saturday or a Sunday.

Anger has mounted due to the “long silence” of the ECI which has accepted requests from Rajasthan not to hold polls on Dev Uthani Ekadashi, an auspicious day for Hindus when a large number of weddings are scheduled.

The poll panel on November 11 announced that it had deferred polling in Rajasthan from November 23 to November 25. UNI ZS SSP

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