A day after the Election Commission (EC) refused to defer polling and counting dates for bypoll to Serchhip Assembly seat in Mizoram, Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) has appealed to extend the duration of polling by an hour.
Mizoram’s main opposition party Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) made the appeal to extend the polling duration so that the members of a particular church can exercise their franchise, a party leader said on Wednesday.
ZPM general secretary Lalmuanpuia Punte said the party on Tuesday shot off another letter to the Election Commission of India (ECI) urging it to extend the duration of voting till 7 pm, an one hour late than the original schedule, to enable members of Seventh-Day Adventist church to cast their votes after sunset.
Polling for the bypoll to Serchhip Assembly 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.
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% of the total voters in that seat.
Their number in the entire state is 16,845, which is around 1.50% 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.