ECI yet decide on deferring Mizoram assembly bypoll: official

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Aizawl, Apr 5 (PTI) The Election Commission of India (ECI) is yet to decide on whether or not to defer the bypoll to the Serchhip assembly seat and counting of votes, as requested by Chief Minister Zoramthanga, churches and opposition parties since both the events fell on days important for Christians, an official said on Monday.

The by-election to the Serchhip constituency in the Christian-majority state was scheduled to be held on April 17, a Saturday, and votes will be counted 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 ECI is yet to give response to the appeal to defer dates of polling and counting,' Mizoram Joint Chief Electoral Officer David Liansanglura Pachuau said.

The poll panel has recently communicated to the CEO seeking information on the number of voters belonging to the Seventh Day Adventist Church in the Serchhip constituency and in the entire state, and the data sought has been sent to the ECI, Pachuau told PTI.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church had earlier said that many voters who are members of it would not be able to exercise their franchise as they observe Sabbath on Saturdays.

Pachuau said that the number of voters belonging to the particular church in Serchhip assembly constituency is estimated to be about 248, which is 1.26 per cent of the total voters in that seat.

Their number in the entire state is 16,845, which is around 1.50 per cent of the voters of Mizoram.

The chief minister, church groups and opposition parties of Mizoram - the Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) and the BJP - have last month urged the ECI to defer the bypoll and counting of votes.

Pachuau said that six candidates are in the fray for the bypoll and arrangements for holding it are more or less complete.

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