Aizawl: The Election Commission on Thursday appointed AGMUT cadre IAS officer Ashish Kundra as poll-bound Mizoram’s new Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), replacing the incumbent SB Shashank, whose removal has been sought by the state government, civil society and political parties.
The order came a week after NGO Coordination Committee, a conglomerate of major civil society organizations and student bodies launched massive protest seeking Shashank’s ouster over his alleged ‘pro Bru’ stance after state home secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo was removed by the Election Commission based on the complaint filed by Shashank that the former had interfered in the poll process.
“The Election Commission of India in consultation with the Government of Mizoram has notified Ashish Kundra as the chief electoral officer for the state of Mizoram with immediate effect,” a notification issued by the EC on Thursday said.
SB Shashank has been attached with the Election Commission with immediate effect and until further order, the notification also said.
The state government had earlier proposed three Mizo IAS officers- H. Lalengmawia, Lalhmingthanga and K. Lalthawmawia for the post of new CEO.
The Election Commission, however, rejected the names and asked the state government to suggest two more names.
Following this the state government suggested Kundra and one Mizo IAS officer.
Kundra, a 1996 batch officer, was posted as the Commissioner and secretary of General Administration Department, Higher and Technical Education and Corporation department in Mizoram.
Asked, Kundra said he did not know whether he would accept his new post as he is yet to receive official intimation.
Meanwhile, civil society and political parties including the ruling Congress have expressed no objection to the EC’ move and partly welcomed it.
NGO Coordination Committee chairman Vanlalruata said they have nothing to say on the EC’s order as the commission has removed Mr Shashank from Mizoram, which is their primary demand.
Mizo National Front (MNF) president Zoramthanga told this reporter that he was not an authority to oppose the EC decision in appointing the new CEO though he want native Mizo to head as CEO for free and fair election.
Congress spokesperson Lallianchhunga said he welcome the EC’s move over appointment of new CEO if he is efficient to conduct state assembly elections under fair and peaceful atmosphere.
State’s apex student body Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) vice president B Vanlaltana said the order was not upto their expectation as they want the commission to appoint Mizo IAS officer as the new CEO to ensure free and fair elections in the state.
As reported in this paper, Shashank had drawn flak from civil society groups after Chuaungo was removed by the EC following complaint raised by Shashank that the former had interfered in poll process and security arrangement for the upcoming assembly polls.
Chuaungo was relieved of his duty by the EC on November 2.
The NGO Coordination Committee had earlier launched state-wide agitation, demanding the removal of Shashank for allegedly allowing Bru voters to cast their votes inside their relief camps in Tripura.
The agitation was called off on 7 November after Shashank had departed for Delhi on being summoned by the EC.
Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla had also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, seeking the removal of Shashank.
On 9 August, delegation of EC led by deputy election commissioner Sudeep Jain held meeting with leaders of civil society groups here. The delegation assured measure for transfer of Shashank and exercise of franchise by Bru voters inside Mizoram.