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Mizoram began to experience Electoral politics with the formation of Mizo Union (MU) as the first political party on 9th April, 1946 and it was followed by the formation of another political party known as United Mizo Freedom Organisation (UMFO) in the next year on 5th July, 1947. Mizoram since 1948 has no poll related violence. As a matter of fact, security forces are employed only for performance of official duty. While killing, violence, rigging and many unfair practices are common in elections in other states of India in general and the neighbouring states in particular, all those unfair and evil practices are unknown totally in Mizoram. One of the reasons for continuous conduct of free and fair poll is due to influence of church and good Christian teaching. 

The church does not involve in politics but the church instructs its members to cast their votes properly as citizens of India but instructs them to avoid unfair and evil practices as good Christian ought to do. Other than the different church associations, civil societies also used to issue election guidelines to people of the state. As a corrective measure to sustain this practice of free and fair election, the Mizoram People Forum (MPF) has been established as an election watch dog body since21st June, 2006 under the initiative of Mizoram Presbyterian Church (MPC) where different civil societies and church associations are affiliated members of the MPF.


However, some issues began to draw attention of the mainland media in almost every election since 1998 on account of the Bru refugees who are in refugee camps in neighbouring Tripura. The genesis of the Bru issue originated due to the killing of two Mizo forest guards by the Bru insurgent group way back in 1997. In fact, there was no pressure at all from civil societies, such as, Young Mizo Association (YMA) and Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) for Bru exodus from Mizoram; instead the Mizo civil societies urged the innocent Bru public to live peacefully in Mizoram but the Bru people left for Tripura out of fear and the Bru exodus started. It was also said that innocent Bru population were instigated by the Bru insurgent leaders to move out of Mizoram so as to problematize the issue. Whatever be the case, thousands of Bru refugees live in the refugee camps in Tripura for over two decades and revision of electoral roll has been done regularly in the Bru refugees camps in Tripura. However, the civil societies which formed a coordination body known as Non-Governmental Organization Coordination Committee (NGO Co-ordination Committee) resisted listing of illegal Bru voters of the Transit Camp of Tripura in electoral roll of Mizoram. The NGO Co-ordination Committee comprised of different civil societies, namely, Young Mizo Association (YMA), Mizo Upa Pawl (MUP), Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP), Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) and Mizo Students Union (MSU).  The NGO Co-ordination Committee does not oppose the listing of bonafide citizens of Mizoram in the electoral roll but it tooth and nail opposes the listing of illegal voters whose identity as bonafide settlers of Mizoram could not be proved. The NGO Co-ordination Committee also fiercely resisted conduct of poll in the Transit Camps in Tripura and it insisted that arrangement should be made to enable the voters to cast their votes within Mizoram but not outside Mizoram. Due to tough stance of the NGO Coordination Committee, the Election Commission of India (ECI) representatives and the NGO Coordination Committee signed an agreement in 2013 that, the Bru refugees in transit camps in Tripura might be allowed to cast their votes in the transit cam in Tripura for the time being, that was State Legislative Assembly elections of 2013, however, necessary arrangement should be made so as to enable them to cast their votes inside Mizoram in the next election. In such away, the NGO Coordination Committee Okayed conduct of poll for Bru refugees in Transit Camps in Tripura, Mizoram State Legislative Assembly elections of 2013.

                           The two essential issues, namely, the conduct of free and fair poll without heavy security forces in Mizoram and the agreement, signed between the ECI and the NGO Co-ordination Committee in 2013 with regard to voting of the Bru refugees were not understood in the true sense of the term by SB Shashank which automatically led to his reluctant ouster from the post of CEO of Mizoram. SB Shashank, IAS promotee, with AGMU cadre was given the responsibility of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Mizoram but he did not look back the electoral history of Mizoram which has maintained the best record for conduct of free and fair poll among all the 29 states of India. Without looking back the understanding between the ECI and YMA with regard to Bru voters in the refugee camps, he intentionally took drastic steps which really angered the NGO Co-ordination Committee and the general public of Mizoram. SB Sheshank initiated the necessary steps for registration of Bru voters who stayed in the transit camp of Tripura in electoral roll of Mizoram and to make arrangement for enabling the Bru voter to cast their votes in transit camps in Tripura. The civil societies particularly the NGO Co-ordination Committee openly resisted the move of Sheshank for making arrangement for Bru refugees of transit camps in Tripura to cast their votes in the transit camp itself. In fact, SB Sheshank was only opening the Pandora box with his proposal for arranging polling booth in the transit camps in Tripura. Over and above that, he ordered the deployment of para military forces and central forces without consulting the State Government of Mizoram which had never experienced any poll related violence since independence.

                         Sheshank was committing one blunder after another even after he opened the Pandora box. As such, he was questioned about the necessity and justification of maximum para-military forces for election in a peaceful state which has no poll related violence by official of the State Government and the NGO Coordination Committee questioned him about the justification of opening polling booth in transit camps in Tripura without taking into account, the agreement which was signed between the ECI and the NGO Co-ordination Committee in 2013. In fact, he was the agent of the ECI in the state but issues concerning security as well as law and order should not be ordered by him without consulting concerned authority of the State Government. As a matter of fact, he encroached his jurisdiction even in this very aspect. As his vested interest proposal for security and opening of polling booth at transit camps in Tripura seemed to be unsuccessful due to corrective steps of the concerned authority of the Home Department of the State Government, he secretly lodged compliant to the ECI out of frustration. The complaint that he submitted to the ECI was also not known officially by his staffs in the office and was not done in official channel. He also violated the protocol by lodging complaints his ten years senior and IAS (from direct recruitment) MrLalnunmawiaChuaungo, the then Principal Secretary, Home and Finance, Government of Mizoram to the ECI.  LalnunmawiaChuaungo is IAS (Gujarat cadre) and he is a smart, intelligent, efficient and hardworking IAS officer. His contribution and his integrity has never been questioned in his service career. However, his good image and integrity began to be questioned only because of the vested interest complaints of Sheshank.

Jangkhongam Doungel
Prof.of Political Science
Mizoram University

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