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BJP demands collegium for appointment of ECs

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, May 12: Accusing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of 'obstructing' a constitutional process from taking its shape regarding the MPs' demand seeking the removal of Election Commissioner Navin Chawla from office, the BJP today asked the government to express its views over the demand to establish a seven-member collegium for the appointment of Election Commissioners.

Party Spokesman and former Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley said the PM sitting over the Presidential reference to the Chief Election Commission seeking his views on the demand for the removal of Mr Chawla as an Election Commissioner by NDA leaders and 205 members of Parliament was tantamount to ''constitutional impropriety''.

This conduct of Dr Singh, he alleged, was ''partisan'' with an intention to save the tainted EC from a certain prospect of being removed from office. He said the media was flashing a letter of Chief Election Commissioner B B Tandon suggesting a seven-member collegium for the appointment of Election Commissioners in the future. One should understand why such a recommendation was made by the CEC a few weeks ahead of his retirement.

''This letter puts the one and only appointment of the UPA government of Mr Chawla under cloud and seeking the recommendation of the CEC on Mr Chawla's present conduct was important because there were only three people who could comment on the working of the Election Commissioner.''

He said it was with this very purpose the Supreme Court set up its own collegium to clear the appointment of judges because the political parties tended to have a person who they were comfortable with. An independent Election Commission to hold free and fair elections in the country was a must like an independent Judiciary for making democracy a success otherwise we would be destroying the the very edifice of the constitution, he remarked.

Answering a question regarding the CPI-M raising questions about the fairness of the Election Commission in holding objective polls in West Bengal, Mr Jaitley said the present elections were the fairest elections ever held in that state.

To a question if the party would have to retract its allegations that the elections in West Bengal were always rigged, Mr Jaitley said it could not be so because today's poll results could not hold a mirror to the fairness of elections in the past. Giving an analogy, he said the same CPI-M had been winning and losing every alternate elections in Kerala whereas they were in power in West Bengal for three decades ever since 1977, he said.

He said one probable reason for CPI-M losing in Kerala was because there was an polarised opposition in that state whereas there was none in West Bengal and the effort of forming a 'Mahajhot' by Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee was a non-starter because of Congress' refusal to work with non-Left parties.


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