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Election Watch: The EC man who dissented on clean chit to PM, Shah recuses himself from MCC meet

PW Bureau

Even as EC has denied reports suggesting a rift, it has also admitted that the three members of ECI cannot be expected to be “clones” of each other

New Delhi: A day before India votes in the final phase of the 2019 General Elections, The Election Commission of India (ECI) has landed itself smack in the middle of a controversy as one of the two Election Commissioners of India, Ashok Lavasa, recused himself from meetings meant to discuss model code of conduct (MCC) violations, a report by wire agency IANS has said.

Even as the Election Commission has stepped out to clear the air and deny reports suggesting a rift in the body, it has also admitted in the same breath that the three members of ECI cannot be expected to be “clones” of each other. The hoopla pertains to the clean chit given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on the matter of poll code violations.

 

Lavasa wrote a letter to Arora

According to a report by wire agency IANS, Lavasa claimed that his minority decisions went unrecorded on several occasions during meetings relating to poll code violations. The matter was flagged by Lavasa thrice: on May 4, 10 and 14, through letters.

“I might consider taking recourse to other measures aimed at restoring the lawful functioning of the Commission in terms of recording minority decisions,” Lavasa wrote in the letter. “My various notes on the need for transparency in the recording and disclosure of all decisions including the minority view have gone unheeded, forcing me to withdraw from participating in the deliberations on the complaints.” Lavasa also told Arora that his “participation in the deliberations of the Commission becomes meaningless” since his minority decisions “go unrecorded.”

What did EC say?

After reports emerged, an official statement released by the Chief Election Commissioner of India said, “The three members of the ECI are not expected to be templates or clones of each other. There have been so many times in the past when there has been a vast diversion of views as it can and should be.” The Election Commission’s three members are Sunil Arora, Ashok Lavasa, and Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra.

The backdrop

Lavasa has given a dissenting opinion in at least four cases, in which the ECI did not find any violation in the speeches of Modi and Shah, by a majority of 2:1.

When asked, Arora had earlier said that dissenting opinions were not incorporated in any non quasi-judicial directive, which included MCC matters. Such orders are signed by an official, not the Election Commissioners.