Aizawl: Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga has written to the Election Commission of India (ECI) seeking preponement of the bypoll to Serchhip assembly seat, which was due on April 17, an official in the Chief Minister Office (CMO) said on Friday.
The chief minister also urged the poll panel to postpone the date of counting by a day or two.
The official said that the chief minister in his letter on Thursday urged the Election Commission to prepone the polling day to April 16 (Friday) one day ahead of the previous schedule (April 17) as the day falls on Saturday, which is the day of Sabbath for the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Mizoram.
In the letter, a copy of which is accessed by PTI, Zoramthanga said that there are a significant number of people belonging to the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Mizoram, including within Serchhip assembly constituency and holding the by-election on April 17 mean that voters belonging to such churches do not cast their votes.
“I request that you consider moving the date of polling a day early to April 16 which is a Friday, so as to not force a segment of the population to choose between religious compulsions and their civic duty to vote,” said the letter addressed to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.
Citing that Sabbath is as significant to Seventh Day Adventist church as Sunday is to the Christians belonging to other denominations, Zoramthanga urged the poll panel to review its earlier schedule so as to enable all voters to rightfully exercise their franchise in the upcoming bypoll.
He further urged the Election Commission to push back the counting day, which is scheduled to be held on May 2, by a day or two as the actual day falls on Sunday.
Mizo Conference of Seventh Day Adventist Church and Serchhip Thalai Pawl (Serchhip Youth Club) also wrote to the Election Commission on Thursday seeking deferment of polling and counting dates (Saturday and Sunday), which are sacrosanct and dedicated for worship services.
In its letter to the chief election commissioner, Seventh Day Adventist Church said that observers of Sabbath refrain from secular activities on the Sabbath day (Saturday) and as such holding the bypoll on Saturday means many would not cast their votes as there are a good number of voters belonging to Seventh Day Adventist Church in Serchhip constituency.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mizoram’s main opposition party Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and state BJP also requested the ECI to defer the Serchhip assembly seat bypoll and counting of votes, saying that both fell on days important for Christians.
As per the schedule announced by the ECI on Tuesday, the bypoll to Serchhip seat will be held simultaneously with two parliamentary constituencies and 13 others assembly seats in various states on April 17.
Counting of votes for all the bypolls is scheduled on May 2.
The bypoll to Serchhip seat was necessitated by the disqualification of incumbent MLA Lalduhoma in November last year under the anti-defection law.
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