Aizawl: Reacting to the allegations levelled by Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and Congress that election officials were being “biased” and giving unfair preferential treatment to a political party, Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Ashish Kundra on Monday said the election officials have acted as per provision of law.
Kundra, who is in Delhi, told EastMojo over phone that the fact that a misleading report appeared on the front page of a local daily on the polling day, which could not even be corrected, definitely requires a fair investigation.
“The returning officer has acted as per provisions of law. He has simply asked for investigation into the matter,” the CEO said as he backed the returning officer, who filed FIR against the editor and joint editor of a local newspaper over misprint of a party symbol.
Two key oppositions — Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and Congress — on Sunday accused election officials of being “partisan” and giving undue favour to the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) over the alleged misleading typo in Vanglaini, the largest circulated vernacular paper in the state.
The oppositions also said that they can no more repose faith in the election officials as they appeared to be under the control of the MNF government headed by chief minister Zoramthanga.
They alleged that Aizawl district deputy commissioner, who was the returning officer, was giving unfair preferential treatment to the MNF as while ignoring the complaint lodged by them over wrong posters displayed in various polling stations within Lunglei district on polling day, the RO has registered FIR against the editor and joint editor of the newspaper owing to complaint filed by the MNF.
ZPM and Congress, which jointly contested the Lok Sabha polls and assembly bypolls on April 11, also a said complaint should not be filed against Lalnghinglova Hmar, who is the joint editor of the newspaper, simply because he was a candidate.
They said that the editor or publisher of a newspaper has complete responsibility for a mistake in his newspaper. Kundra said that the fact that the joint editor himself was a candidate also drew conflict of interest.
“The election machinery has always acted in a fair and impartial manner without any bias or prejudice,” he said.
Aizawl district DC or RO Vanlalngaihsaka said he has nothing to comment on the allegation as he was acted as per law.
Meanwhile, state Joint chief electoral officer H Lianzela said the Election Commission could not take up any measure and compliance with the complaint filed by ZPM and the Congress as the complainants had withdrawn their complaints on polling day.
He said that the Election Commission has taken corrective measures and rectified all the wrong posters, which were replaced with the correct ones except in some places like in Thorang assembly constituency, by the time ZPM-Congress lodged complaint.
As reported earlier, Vanglaini had published in its front page on April 11, the day polling for Lok Sabha and assembly by-election was held, indicating the MNF party’s symbol is “sun”, instead of the actual symbol “star”.
While chief minister and MNF president Zoramthanga alleged that it was done deliberately to confuse the voter, the editor of the newspaper K Sapdanga denied the allegation citing it was “purely a mistake”.
Following the complaint lodged by the MNF, the RO filed FIR against the editor and joint editor of the newspaper, who were granted anticipatory bail on Friday.