Mizoram, April 17: Bypoll to Serchhip Constituency MLA seat is underway under a peaceful atmosphere. Citizens started casting their votes at 7:00 Am the morning. Amidst heavy rain and gloomy weather in the morning, voters turn out in their respective polling stations.
Before entering the polling area, voters are provided with a voter’s Slip and thermal scanning is done in all entrances of the polling area. Social Distancing, wearing masks and gloves, sanitizing hands, and other safety protocols are strictly maintained.
Voters turnout till 10 am is 20.4%.
Altogether 19,520 voters, including 10,329 women, will decide the fate of six candidates, including those of the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), ZPM, and the Congress.
The MNF has fielded its vice president and former Lok Sabha member Vanlalzawma, while the ZPM and the Congress has nominated Lalduhoma and PC Laltlansanga respectively.
The bypoll to the Serchhip seat was necessitated after the disqualification of incumbent MLA Lalduhoma in November 2020 under the anti-defection law.
The Election Commission (EC) has extended the duration of the polling period by an hour following appeals by political parties and the recommendation of the state chief electoral officer to enable all voters to exercise their franchise, an official said.
Earlier, it was scheduled to be held between 7 am and 6 pm.
The official said that some political parties had recently again appealed to the EC to extend the duration of the polling period after their request of rescheduling the dates of polling and counting on account of religious obligation was rejected by the poll panel.
Chief Minister Zoramthanga, opposition party Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and the Seventh-Day Adventist church had last month separately urged the EC to reschedule the dates of both the events as they fell on days important for Christians.
The poll panel had announced that the by-election to the Serchhip constituency in the Christian-majority state will be held on April 17, a Saturday, and counting of votes will take place on May 2 which is a Sunday.
Saturday is a sanctified day for certain Christian denominations in Mizoram especially the Seventh Day Adventist the church which follows the Sabbath, a day of religious observance and abstinence from work. Sunday is also a holy day for Christians. The EC has said that their pleas could not be entertained as the dates were fixed after taking into account several factors.
The poll period was extended apparently because the authorities of the Seventh-Day Adventist church have said that its members will be able to cast their votes only after sunset.
The official said that Central Armed Forces and state armed police have been deployed for the bypoll.