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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Slated to be next CEC, Ashok Lavasa now headed for ADB

Ashok Lavasa's premature exit as Election Commissioner would only be the second in EC's history. He still has over two years left in his term at the Election Commission of India.

Written by Ritika Chopra | New Delhi |
Updated: July 16, 2020 3:33:40 am
Ashok Lavasa, Ashok Lavasa join ADB, election commission, election commissioner ashok lavasa, asian development bank Ashok Lavasa joined as Election Commissioner on January 23, 2018

Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, who was next in line to head the poll panel, has been appointed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as vice-president.

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.

According to sources, Lavasa’s appointment to the ADB was finalised with the concurrence of the Union government.
ADB spokesperson Ramoncito dela Cruz did not respond to this newspaper’s specific question on whether the government was consulted. “As per the ADB Charter, Vice Presidents are appointed by the Board of Directors on recommendation by ADB President. The appointments are merit based,” the spokesperson said in an email.

Lavasa refused to comment on the matter. It is unclear if he has resigned as Election Commissioner, a step he will need to take if he is to take up his new role. Cruz told The Indian Express that the ADB expects him to assume office in September.

His premature exit from the poll panel — 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.

Announcing his appointment on Wednesday afternoon, ADB said Lavasa 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.

Referring to Lavasa’s appointment, the ADB press statement said, “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 private sector.”

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 had made headlines during the Lok Sabha elections in 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 Lok Sabha elections.

Soon after the elections, 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 paediatrician, 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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