New Delhi: Just a day ahead of the last day of polling for Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission (EC) is surrounded in yet another controversy as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora on Saturday denied any rift with election commissioner Ashok Lavasa and said that the top three members of the poll body are not 'expected to be template or clones of each other'.
Arora's statement came in the light of a news report published in Hindustan Times on Saturday said that Lavasa has recused himself of all meetings to discuss violations of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) until his dissent notes or minority decisions were included in such orders. Lavasa reportedly wrote a letter on 4 May to Arora explaining the situation.
"The three members of the EC 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 the EC after demission of office unless appearing much later in a book written by the concerned ECs/CECs," Arora said in a statement released on Saturday.
Arora went on to add that in a meeting on 14 May, it was 'unanimously decided' that some groups would be formed to deliberate on the issue which includes the model code. According to a senior EC official, the legal division is of the view that the recording of dissent cannot take place in the case of model code violation as it is a quasi judicial hearing.
Apart from Arora and Lavasa, the third member in the poll body is election commissioner Sushil Chandra. The EC has now maintained that the ongoing developments are an 'internal matter' and that a meeting is set to take place on 21 May to discuss this and other related matters.
However, the Congress party continued with its attack on the EC and called the developments a 'day-light murder' of Constitutional norms, set conventions and propriety. “Omitting the dissent of Election Commissioner, simply because he had asked for a notice to be issued to the PM Modi, has severely tarnished the institutional integrity of the Election Commission," Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a statement.
Lavasa is known to have differed with the majority view of the EC in giving clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a complaint of violation of model code. While EC has given clean chit to Modi in six cases and Congress president Rahul Gandhi in one, there are a few more complaints of model code violation against Modi that still remains.
Get latest election news and live updates on Lok Sabha Elections 2019 here