Bypoll to Serchhip seat in Mizoram to be held on Saturday

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Aizawl, Apr 16 (PTI) By-election to the Serchhip assembly seat in Mizoram will be held amid tight security on Saturday.

Altogether 19,520 voters, including 10,329 women, will decide the fate of six candidates, including those of the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), ZPM and the Congress.

The MNF has fielded its vice president and former Lok Sabha member Vanlalzawma, while the ZPM and the Congress have nominated Lalduhoma and PC Laltlansanga respectively.

The bypoll to the Serchhip seat was necessitated after the disqualification of incumbent MLA Lalduhoma in November 2020 under the anti-defection law.

Voting will take place in 29 polling stations from 7 am to 7 pm.

The Election Commission (EC) has extended the duration of the polling period by an hour following appeals by political parties and the recommendation of the state chief electoral officer to enable all voters to exercise their franchise, an official said.

Earlier, it was scheduled to be held between 7 am and 6 pm.

The official said that some political parties had recently again appealed to the EC to extend the duration of the polling period after their request of rescheduling the dates of polling and counting on account of religious obligation was rejected by the poll panel.

Chief Minister Zoramthanga, opposition party Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) and the Seventh-Day Adventist church had last month separately urged the EC to reschedule the dates of both the events as they fell on days important for Christians.

The poll panel had announced that the by-election to the Serchhip constituency in the Christian-majority state will be held on April 17, a Saturday, and counting of votes will take place on May 2 which is a Sunday.

Saturday is a sanctified day for certain Christian denominations in Mizoram especially the Seventh Day Adventist church which follows the Sabbath, a day of religious observance and abstinence from work. Sunday is also a holy day for Christians.

The EC has said that their pleas could not be entertained as the dates were fixed after taking into account several factors.

The poll period was extended apparently because the authorities of the Seventh-Day Adventist church have said that its members will be able to cast their votes only after sunset.

The official said that Central Armed Forces and state armed police have been deployed for the bypoll. PTI COR NN NN