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BJP may meet President to seek Chawla's sacking : Advani

Written by: Staff
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Vadodara, Apr 8 (UNI) Taking strong exception to the government's inaction on the complaint against Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, senior BJP leader L K Advani today said that his party would be ''constrained'' to approach the President for the third time to complain about the ''undermining of democratic institutions'' by the UPA.

Citing news reports suggesting that the Law Ministry had exonerated Mr Chawla of the charges made by over 200 MPs in Parliament, he said it had also come to light that the then Minister for State for Personnel Margaret Alva had denied Mr Chawla permission to float a trust in 1994.

''Now one has to find out if he hid the facts about the government again refusing permission when he sought tried for a second time in 1996,'' Mr Advani told mediapersons here on the third day of his 'Bharat Suraksha Yatra.' Noting that Article 324 (5) which dealt with removal of an Election Commissioner made it clear that the President could take action against an Election Commissioner only upon the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner, which was binding, he expressed surprise that ''the Prime Minister, instead of sending the complaints of the MPs to the CEC, had sought the advice of the Attorney General.'' ''The matter is not of technicality but of propriety.

The past conduct of Mr Chawla cannot be divorced from his present status as a member of the EC because he cannot be expected to act in an unbiased manner because the two trusts managed by him and his wife had secured huge donations amounting to Rs 95 lakhs from the MPs Local Areas Development Funds from leading Congress party MPs and large plots of lands in Delhi and Rajasthan governments,'' Mr Advani claimed.

He said despite the Election Commission enjoying the image of a ''protector and maintainer of democracy in the country,'' but the presence of Mr Chawla, who possesses a 'questionable past,' can ''seriously impinge on its neutrality to act in a free and fair manner.'' ''The Shah Commission which had inquired into Mr Chawla's role in the Emergency excesses had indicted him after a public hearing. This cannot be ignored,'' Mr Advani noted, demanding that the memorandum against Mr Chawla signed by 205 MPs be sent to CEC immediately.

''The BJP condemns the rank unconstitutional behavour of the UPA Government,'' he added.

Asked if the President had erred in sending the memorandum to the PM instead of CEC, Mr Advani said the President had sent it to the PM because the Election Commission comes under the jurisdiction of the Law Ministry. ''If the Ministry had sent the memorandum to Attorney General, it was its fault.'' To a question on the BJP's views on the office of profit controversy, Mr Advani said he and his Rajya Sabha counterpart Jaswant Singh had received letter from Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee. ''Mr Singh will be replying on behalf of the party,'' he said, adding that the BJP would give its reaction on the amendment only after studying the draft.

UNI MCN VD HT1135

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