Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, demanding the removal of the state’s chief electoral officer, SB Shashank. The Mizoram Assembly elections will be held on November 28.
Thanhawla alleged that the Election Commission of India had transferred Principal Home Secretary L Chuaungo at Shashank’s instance. He also claimed that Shashank’s handling of the election process “leaves much to be desired”.
In his letter, Thanhawla told Modi that the election watchdog Mizoram People’s Forum, a joint action committee of churches in the state, and some leading non-governmental organisations have demanded that Shashank be removed from his post.
“His style of functioning and his complete failure to take his own colleagues into confidence has led to this impasse,” the chief minister wrote to Modi. “The action of the chief electoral officer is seen by the people of Mizoram as an attempt to belittle whatever commendable acts the civil society has done and stood for. His complete lack of confidence and incompetence can be gauged in that for the first time, he has in his office two additional CEOs, one joint CEO, two deputy CEOs and an assistant CEO. And if this is not enough, he has even requested for additional security forces from outside the state.”
Thanhawla demanded that Shashank be sacked, and suggested that the additional chief electoral officer can take over his responsibilities if “fresh arrangements cannot be made at this juncture”.
In his complaint to the Election Commission against Chuaungo, Shashank had accused him of questioning the chief electoral officer’s decisions regarding the deployment of security forces for the polls. Chuaungo had also allegedly objected to making special arrangements for Bru refugees from Mizoram to vote at their camps in Tripura, The Times of India reported on Friday. Thanhawla had backed Chuaungo, telling the daily that giving Bru refugees special permission to vote from Tripura was “totally unethical”.
In his letter to Rajnath Singh on Monday, Thanhawla alleged that despite elaborate arrangements by both the Centre and the state to enable Bru refugees living in the Tripura camps to come to Mizoram and vote, some “vested interests” in these camps were dissuading them from doing so, in order to press their demand for an Autonomous District Council.
The chief minister warned that such actions will alienate the Mizos from India, and “belittle” the integration policy of the government, especially with its focus on the Act East Policy. “I request your intervention to restore the status quo in this regard, as there is no threat whatsoever to the Brus for casting their votes in Mizoram,” he told Singh.