New Delhi: Union law minister HR Bhardwaj on Monday said chief election commissioner (CEC) N Gopalaswami should do his job in the Election Commission and not behave like a “political boss”.
On 31 January, the CEC recommended to the President that his colleague, Navin Chawla, be sacked for alleged “partisanship”. The President had forwarded the letter to the Prime Minister, who was in hospital after a heart surgery. This is the first time a chief election commissioner has sought the removal of an election commissioner.
The law minister said he had received a file on the matter. “I have to see what is new in the matter,” he said, adding the internal tussle within the Election Commission has been going on ever since Chawla was appointed to the post of Election Commissioner.
“Gopalaswami should do his work in EC and not become a political boss,” he told the news agency on the sidelines of a conference here.
Asked if the government had taken any decision on the chief election commissioner’s recommendation to remove Chawla, he said “When a decision is taken, we will inform you,” adding “the EC’s role is to prepare electoral rolls and not to settle scores”.
The timing of N Gopalaswami’s recommendation for the removal of his fellow election commissioner could not have been more inappropriate. Elections are around the corner and Gopalaswami is demitting office on 20 April.
This has the potential to mire the Election Commission (EC) in needless controversy and open its doors to political manipulation, something politicians across the spectrum would not hesitate to do.
EC is one institution that has single-handedly ensured a level playing field in electoral politics—an arena not known for following sporting rules. One of the reasons for the success of Indian democracy is the separation of the conduct of elections from actual electoral politics and the influence of political parties.