The Election Commission of India (ECI) has replaced Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer SB Shashank after protests in the state demanding his ouster. Ashish Kundra has been appointed in his place
The crisis in the poll-bound state stems from Shashank alleging interference by the state government in preparations for the polls, scheduled on November 28. He wrote to the EC in the last week of October, mentioning an “active role” played by the state Home Department in this interference.
The department was then headed by Principal Secretary (Home) Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, a 1987-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer serving in Mizoram on an inter-cadre deputation.
Less than a week after receiving the letter, the poll panel issued orders to the state government to remove Chuaungo with immediate effect. Chuango’s removal led to demands for Shashank’s removal as the CEO.
Shashank had accused Chuaungo of interfering with the revision of electoral rolls of Bru refugees from Mizoram, who have been living in relief camps in Tripura since ethnic violence drove them away in 1997. Most Mizos, including the state government, are opposed to the Election Commission’s proposal for allowing Brus to vote at their camps and want them to return to Mizoram for that.
The protests had forced the ECI to send a senior official for talks with the apex body leading the stir while accepting the “broad contours” of its resolution on the CEO and Bru refugees submitted to a poll panel delegation.
Following the talks, the Coordination Committee Wednesday submitted a resolution, seeking the poll panel stand by its April 2014 commitment that in any future parliamentary or assembly elections in Mizoram, the Bru refugees living in camps in neighbouring Tripura could only vote within the state. It also reiterated the demand that Shashank be removed from his post and the state.