Days before the assembly elections in Mizoram, the state's recently-appointed chief election officer has been replaced after massive protests. SB Shashank has been replaced with Ashish Kundra, who will now oversee the November 28 elections.
Mizoram had witnessed an unprecedented protests where civil society and political parties were at loggerheads with the election officer. Mr Shashank had pushed for the removal of the state's principal secretary, accusing him of interfering in the electoral rolls revision process. The Election Commission had acted immediately.
Mizoram residents, however, wanted the bureaucrat to be reinstated and the election officer shunted out. Thousands had protested before Mr Shashank's office in Aizawl on November 6 and November 7 demanding his removal.
He was summoned to Delhi in the face of large-scale demonstrations and the Election Commission sent two high-level teams to check the situation.
The Election Commission had agreed to the main demands of civil society groups. Two of the main demands by the groups led by the Mizoram NGO Coordination Committee or MNCC were to reappoint ousted principal secretary (home) Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, and allowing Bru tribe refugees who are living in neighbouring Tripura to vote only in Mizoram and not from their camps in the other state.
The election panel had earlier asked the Mizoram government for a panel of names to replace Mr Shashank.
Earlier this month, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding Mr Shashank's removal from the top post.
Mizoram has 40 assembly seats with an nearly 7.6 lakh registered voters. The Congress has been in power in Mizoram since 2008 and is the only northeastern state ruled by the party. After the November 28 elections, results will be declared on December 11.
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