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Two election commissioners likely to be appointed by Mar 15

Days before the poll panel is expected to announce the schedule for the Lok Sabha polls, Goel resigned on Friday morning…reports Asian Lite News

Two election commissioners are likely to be appointed by March 15 to fill the vacancies created by the retirement of Anup Chandra Pandey and the surprise resignation of Arun Goel, sources said on Sunday.

Days before the poll panel is expected to announce the schedule for the Lok Sabha polls, Goel resigned on Friday morning. His resignation was accepted by President Droupadi Murmu on Saturday and the Law Ministry issued a notification to announce it.

This leaves Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar as the sole member of the poll authority. Pandey had demitted office on February 14 on attaining the age of 65 years.

A search committee under Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal and comprising the Home Secretary and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) Secretary will first prepare two separate panels of five names each for the two posts.

Later, a selection committee headed by the prime minister and comprising a Union minister and Leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury will then name two persons for appointment as election commissioners.

The election commissioners will be appointed by the President.

Sources said the selection committee could meet either on March 13 or 14 depending on the convenience of the members and the appointments are likely to be made by March 15.

Before a new law on the appointment of CEC and ECs came into force recently, the election commissioners were appointed by the President on the government’s recommendation and as per custom, the senior-most was appointed as CEC.

Clause 2 of Article 324 of the Constitution states that the Election Commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and such number of other Election Commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix.

Responding to questions on reasons behind Goel’s resignation, the sources said he might have resigned due to personal reasons.

They also rejected suggestions that there were differences between Goel and Kumar, saying records of internal communication, minutes and decisions show there was no dissent recorded by Goel.

If seasoned bureaucrats brainstorm on an issue, there are bound to be differences in opinion and perception. These cannot be described as differences, they added.

Goel, who tendered resignation on Friday morning, did not attend the crucial meeting between the EC and top home ministry and railway officials to firm up deployment and movement of central forces across India for poll duty.

Goel was a 1985-batch IAS officer of the Punjab cadre. He had joined the Election Commission in November 2022. His tenure was till December 5, 2027, and he would have become Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) after incumbent Rajiv Kumar retired in February next year.

Ashok Lavasa had resigned as election commissioner in August 2020. He had given dissent notes on various model code violations decisions taken by the EC in the last Lok Sabha polls.

Originally, the commission had only a CEC. It currently consists of the CEC and two election commissioners.

Two additional commissioners were first appointed on October 16, 1989, but they had a very short tenure till January 1, 1990. Later, on October 1, 1993, two additional election commissioners were appointed. The concept of a multi-member EC has been in operation since then, with decision made by a majority vote.

Jairam Ramesh questions resignation of top EC official

Congress General Secretary in-charge Communications Jairam Ramesh on Sunday questioned the resignation of Election Commissioner Arun Goel, asking if he stepped down to contest elections on a BJP ticket.

Earlier, on Saturday, Goel resigned from the post of Election Commissioner ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

“The Election Commission should be a fair body, it is a constitutional institution. Arun Goel resigned yesterday. I could thunk of four possible reasons for this. First, there could have been some differences between the Chief Election Commissioner and him. Secondly, could the Modi government, which drives the panel, have fallen out with him? Third, he could have resigned for personal reasons and lastly, he could be contesting the elections on a BJP ticket. There will be more clarity in the next few days,” Jairam Ramesh told ANI.

In a post on X, he said that the resignation of Arun Goel as Election Commissioner last evening raises three questions.

“Did he actually resign over differences with the Chief Election Commissioner or with the Modi Govt, which does the front-seat driving for all supposedly independent institutions? 2. Or did he resign for personal reasons? 3. Or did he, like the Calcutta High Court Judge a few days back, resign to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls on a BJP ticket?” Jairam Ramesh posted on X.

He further said that each passing day in Modi’s India deals an added blow to democracy and democratic institutions.

“The Election Commission has for 8 months now refused to meet with INDIA parties on the issue of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) that are so very essential to prevent Electronic Voting Manipulation (EVM),” he added.

Ramesh further said that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will go to Swaraj Ashram today.

“Around 10.30 am, Rahul Gandhi will go to Swaraj Ashram. The Ashram was established by Vallabhbhai Patel in 1922 and in 1928, he led Bardoli Satyagraha from here. Following that, he began to be known as Sardar Patel. Bardoli Satyagraha is a milestone,” he added.

He further said that on March 13, in Dhule, the Congress president and Rahul Gandhi will announce the guarantees of the Congress party regarding ‘Nari Nyay’.

“Bharat Jodo Nyay will resume from there (Ashram). There will be a break tomorrow, March 11. On March 12, an ‘Adivasi Sammelan’ is being held on Nandurbar, Rahul Gandhi will address it. On March 13, in Dhule, Congress President Kharge and Rahul Gandhi five will announce the guarantees of Congress party regarding ‘Nari Nyay’,” he added.

The Congress’s ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’, after the party’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, aims to cover 6,700 km through 15 states, with Lok Sabha polls around the corner.

The Lok Sabha polls are expected to be held in April-May this year. (ANI)

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