Aizawl, Apr 14 (PTI) A day after the Election Commission of India (ECI) turned down pleas to defer polling and counting dates for bypoll to Serchhip assembly seat, Mizoram main opposition party Zoram Peoples Movement (ZPM) has urged the poll panel to at least extend voting time by an hour to help members of a particular church exercise their franchise.
ZPM general secretary Lalmuanpuia Punte said in a statement that the party on Tuesday shot off another letter to the Election Commission urging it to extend the duration of voting till 7 pm, one hour more than the original schedule, to enable members of Seventh-Day Adventist church to cast their votes after sunset.
Voting for the bypoll to Serchhip seat will be held from 7 am to 6 pm on April 17, which is Saturday.
In its letter, the ZPM reiterated that some Christian denominations in Mizoram like the Seventh-Day Adventist church observed Saturday as 'Sabbath', which is a day of religious observance and abstinence from work.
Voters from this particular church will be inconvenienced to exercise their franchise if the duration of polling is not extended, it said.
It may be noted that Sabbath starts from sunset of Friday and ends at sunset of Saturday.
Earlier on April 12, the Election Commission had made it clear that the petitions seeking deferment of dates of polling and counting for the bypoll could not be entertained as they were fixed after taking into account several factors.
In its replies to chief minister Zoramthanga, ZPM and Seventh-Day Adventist church, the poll panel said that polling will be held on April 17 and counting of votes will take place on May 2 as per the previous schedule.
According to election officials, 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, they said.
Executive Secretary of the Mizo Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist church, Lalnilawma Colney, had said that the church members were instructed to cast their votes only after sunset. PTI COR SNS SNS