CEC Arora denies rift, says ‘members are not clones’

The Chief Election Commission (CEC) Sunil Arora described as “unsavoury” and “avoidable” reports on Lavasa’s displeasure over giving back-to-back clean chits to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah for alleged violations of model code of conduct (MCC). Arora played down the “differences” within the three-member poll panel, saying election commissioners are not “expected to be clones of each other”.

“The three members of EC 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,” Arora said in a statement on Lavasa’s purported letter to him.

The CEC said a meeting has been called on Tuesday to discuss this and related matters. When contacted,  Lavasa said the issue was an “internal matter” and he would like to offer no comment. Lavasa had dissented in some of the 11 decisions EC took on complaints against Mr Modi and Mr Shah for alleged model code violations.

On three occasions, Lavasa wrote to the CEC to accept his demand for including minority decisions in the CEC’s final orders related to hate speeches and code violations. Expressing his displeasure over the way things were going on in the EC, Lavasa wrote to Mr Arora on May 4 saying, “I am being forced to stay away from the meetings of the full commission since minority decisions are not being recorded. My participation in the deliberations of the commission becomes meaningless since my minority decisions go unrecorded.”

The EC’s legal division had opined that dissent cannot be recorded on decisions as model code violations are not part of a quasi judicial hearing where all the three — the CEC and two fellow commissioners sign. The majority view is conveyed to the parties concerned. The dissent remains recorded in the file only and not made public, said the legal division.

The CEC on Saturday blamed media for reporting an avoidable controversy. “This has come at a time when all the CEOs (chief election officers) and their teams across the country are geared towards the seventh and last phase of polling tomorrow followed by the gigantic task of counting on May 23,” said Arora. “It needs to be clarified categorically and unambiguously that this is purely an internal matter of the EC and as such any speculation, innuendoes and insinuations in this regard should be eschewed,” he added.

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