Aizawl: On Thursday, the day Mizoram held polling for the lone Lok Sabha seat and assembly by-election, state chief electoral officer (CEO) Ashish Kundra served a separate show-cause notice to the editor and joint editor of a local daily following a complaint lodged by the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) that the newspaper has intentionally depicted the party’s symbol as “sun” against the actual symbol — the “star.”
Kundra told reporters at a press conference that he has issued show-cause notices to K Sapdanga, the editor of Vanglaini, the largest circulated vernacular paper in the state, and the joint editor of the paper Lalnghinglova Hmar, asking them to clarify their position as the news report appeared to be prima-facie violation of the Representation of People Act.
Interestingly, Sapdanga is the secretary general of main opposition Zoram People’s People Movement (ZPM), while Hmar is the joint candidate of ZPM and Congress for the Lok Sabha seat.
Kundra said the show-cause notice was also served to the joint editor because he happened to be a candidate. He said that Aizawl district deputy commissioner Lalngaihsaka, who is the returning officer of the Lok Sabha polls has also written to the police to take legal action.
While highlighting names of candidate, who are contesting for the Lok Sabha polls, and their symbol, the local paper, published the MNF’s symbol as “sun” in its front page under lead news.
The news report received strong reaction from MNF workers, after a news clip was widely circulated on social media.
Speaking to reporters after casting his vote, chief minister and MNF chief Zoramthanga alleged that it was a deliberate act to confuse the voters.
“This is done either deliberately or purposefully to undermine the MNF party and our candidate because the editor of the paper is the leader of our opponent and the joint editor himself is ZPM-Congress joint candidate,” he said, adding it was part of clear violation of model code of conduct.
Zoramthanga also slammed the news report as “cheap political stunt.”
K Sapdanga denied it was deliberate attempt to confuse voters but purely a mistake. He also expressed apology to the people, CEO, MNF president the party’s candidate C. Lalrosanga stating “inadvertent mistake”.
“As soon as we learn about the mistake, we asked all our hawkers not to circulate the paper in towns and villages,” he said.
Vanglaini has a circulation of more than 50,000 copies across the state. Sapdanga also said that they have written a reply to the CEO regarding the news report.
Former chief minister and state Congress president Lal Thanhawla has backed the paper saying errors are common in many newspaper and that the news report should not be taken negatively and intentional.
Meanwhile, ZPM and Congress also lodged a complaint with the CEO over the posters displayed by Lunglei District Election Officer, which allegedly wrongly placed the combine candidate Lalnghinglova Hmar from serial number 5 to 4.
ZPM-Congress joint publicity committee chairman Lallianchhunga said the poster wrongly interchanged the position of Hmar with one independent candidate was widely displayed in various polling stations in Lunglei district especially in Thorang assembly constituency for public information.
“Lunglei has high number of illiterate persons and therefore the posters have greatly confused the voters,” he said.
Kundra told reporters that corrective measure has been taken immediately and the posters were replaced with the correct ones.