Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, who was next in line to head the poll panel, resigned on Tuesday to join the Philippines-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) as vice-president next month.
Lavasa has submitted his resignation to President Ram Nath Kovind and has requested to be relieved on August 31. The Indian Express could not confirm if the President has accepted his resignation. Press Secretary to President Ajay Kumar Singh told this newspaper that he is not aware of the development.
The ADB had announced Lavasa’s appointment on July 15. “He (Lavasa) has extensive experience in public-private partnerships and infrastructure development at the state and federal levels, with deep knowledge on public policy and the role of the private sector,” last month’s press statement had said.
He will succeed vice-president Diwakar Gupta, who is in charge of private sector operations, and public-private partnerships. Gupta completes his term on August 31.
The ADB president heads a management team of six vice-presidents. A vice-president is appointed for a term of three years, which can be extended by another two years.
Lavasa still has over two years left in his term at the Election Commission of India. He would have retired as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) in October 2022.
As CEC, he would have conducted Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa, among other states. His premature exit — a second in the Election Commission’s history — puts his colleague Sushil Chandra next in the line of succession. In 1973, Chief Election Commissioner Nagender Singh had resigned before completing his term at the Election Commission to become a judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Lavasa had made headlines during the Lok Sabha elections 2019, when he opposed the clean chit given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former BJP president Amit Shah on charges of violating the Model Code of Conduct during the elections.
Soon after the polls, three members of the Lavasa family, including his wife, had come under the scanner of the Income Tax Department for alleged non-declaration of income and disproportionate assets. His son Abir Lavasa’s company (Nourish Organic) and Ashok Lavasa’s sister Shakuntala Lavasa, a pediatrician, were also served income tax notices. The family members have denied allegations made by the IT department.
Lavasa joined as Election Commissioner on January 23, 2018. He is a retired IAS officer of the Haryana cadre (1980 batch). He retired as Finance Secretary and has also served as environment and civil aviation secretary. As joint secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs in 2001-02, he looked after matters pertaining to ADB.
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