Mizoram has formally said no to counting of votes on a Sunday. The reason: Sundays in the predominantly Christian state are reserved only for church activities or related functions.
Mizoram is among the five states going to the polls later this year and the Election Commission has fixed December 4 as the date of polling in the tiny northeastern state. Counting of votes in all states – including Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh -- will be held on December 8.
On Monday, the Mizoram Presbyterian Church submitted a memorandum to the state’s chief electoral officer Ashwini Kumar seeking a change in the dates of polling as well as counting. The memorandum was signed by leaders of all political parties and Young Mizo Association, the most influential social NGO in the state.
Leaders of the church, the NGO and the political parties have suggested advancing the date of polling from December 4 to November 26 and the date of counting from December 8 to December 4.
While December 8 is a Sunday, a day “Mizos are sentimental about” and religiously stay away from non-church activities, December 4 marks the start of the Presbyterian Church’s five-day annual Synod conference.
In the 2008 assembly elections, the Election Commission had changed the date of polling for Mizoram from November 30 to December 2. This followed an appeal from the Seventh Day Adventists – a miniscule group – as November 30, being a Saturday, clashed with their Sabbath Day.
“We hope the EC would consider our request for the change of dates. We also expect to meet the Election Commissioner during his visit to Mizoram,” said Reverend Lalramliana Pachuau, moderator of Mizoram Presbyterian Church.
CEO Kumar, however, said the onus of changing dates was on the Election Commission. “We would be forwarding the memorandum to the Commission,” he added.
According to the 2001 census, Christians comprised 86.97% of Mizoram’s population. The Presbyterians form the largest Christian denomination followed by Baptists, Catholics and Salvation Army.
Mizoram became a full-fledged state in 1986 after the signing of the Mizo Accord between the militant Mizo National Front and the central government. Known as Lushai Hills earlier, it was part of Assam before attaining statehood.