Revolt in Election Commission: CEC Sunil Arora calls controversy ‘unsavory’ and ‘avoidable’

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Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa has reportedly written a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora stating that he had decided to skip the meetings on Model Code of Conduct violations since his dissent was not recorded in the past. This forced Arora to issue an extraordinary public statement.

Sunil Arora

Arora termed the controversy ‘unsavory’ and ‘avoidable.’ He wrote, “There has been an unsavory and avoidable controversy reported in sections of the media today about the internal functioning of the Election Commission of India in respect of handing Mode Code of Conduct. This has come at a time when all the CEOs throughout the country and their teams are geared for the Seventh and last Phase of polling which is tomorrow, that is on 19th May, 2019 followed by the gigantic task of counting on 23.05.2019 ahead of EC.”

Arora, who’s widely been accused of openly supporting the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, added, “All of them and the senior officers of the ECI HQ have been working their utmost during the last six phases of elections which barring an odd incidence  here and there have been largely peaceful and conducted in a fair, free and transparent manner.”

He said that disagreement within the three-member Election Commission was expected. He, however, did not clarify why Ashok Lavasa’s dissent on giving clean chits to Modi for poll code violations was not recorded in the EC’s final order.

Arora wrote, “The three members of ECI are not expected to be template 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. But the same largely remained within the confines of ECI after demission of office unless appearing much later in a book written by the concerned
ECs/CECs. I have personally never shied away from a public debate whenever required but
there is a time for everything. There was a reason, I said few days back in another leading daily that eloquence of silence is always difficult but far more desirable which is far to see the election process through instead of creating ill-timed controversies.”

Arora concluded his statement by pointing out that ‘in the last meeting of the Commission on 14.05.2019, it was unanimously decided that some groups shall be formed to deliberate the issues, which arose in the course of conduct of Lok Sabha Elections, 2019 just as it was done after Lok Sabha elections of 2014.’ “Out of the 13 issues/areas which were identified Model Code of Conduct is one of them,” Arora concluded.

On 1 May, the Election Commission had given Modi a clean chit on complaints of violation of the Model Code of Conduct during his election speech in Latur in Maharashtra. The same day, the national poll body ruled that Modi did not violate any rules with his speech made in Maharashtra’s Wardha, where he was seen provoking Hindus against the Congress at an election rally on 1 April.

On 3 May, the EC had given another clean to Modi on complaints of poll code violation. This was in the case of his speech in Rajasthan’s Barmer, where he had said that India was no longer scared of Pakistan and the country’s nuclear arsenal was not meant for Diwali celebrations. On 4 May, the EC said that Modi did not violate the model code in his speech in Gujarat’s Patan on 21 April. The Prime Minister had said that his government kept Pakistan on its toes to secure the safe release of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

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