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Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Chawla factor

Now that Navin Chawla and V.S. Sampat have assumed charge as India’s chief election commissioner and election commissioner....

Written by Rajeev Shukla |
May 1, 2009 12:12:25 am

Now that Navin Chawla and V.S. Sampat have assumed charge as India’s chief election commissioner and election commissioner respectively,I hope last year’s bitter controversy will be forgotten. All political parties should refrain from dragging the EC into political controversies. The BJP’s Arun Jaitley has no love lost for Navin Chawla,and misses no opportunity to attack him,disregarding the fact that in this media age,the EC cannot take sides or harass any party.

The real issue must rise above persons and settle on the institution of Election Commission. The commission is an independent constitutional body and its commissioners are seen as constitutional appointees.

There is no doubt that elections in India are now fiercely independent. The Election Commission has supreme authority. No politician is able to unduly influence elections,and booth capturing is a thing of the past. All this has happened because the EC has worked towards earning its distinct authority over the last ten years.

The Congress never made any attempt to question the conduct of the outgoing CEC N. Gopalaswamy throughout his term,though everyone knew of his closeness to BJP’s LK Advani. Congress knew that accusing Gopalaswamy for any lapses would be tantamount to denigrating the credibility of EC and harm national interest. The new appointees in Navin Chawla and Qureshi deserve similar respect from all parties; or else the consequences will prove damaging for India for a long time to come.

Why only Vajpayee?

BJP senior leader Jaswant Singh’s latest attempt at damage control over the terrorists’ release during the Kandahar episode is nothing more than farce. In his attempt to rescue Advani, Singh has now suddenly remembered that he was actually against releasing the terrorists,but had to be convinced by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. So it is Vajpayee who must take more than his fair share of the blame,not Advani who was the home minister and also deputy PM at the time. The attempt to drag Vajpayee into the centre of the storm is in extremely poor taste. Vajpayee has been keeping ill for a long time and he cannot even defend himself publicly. But he must be pained to see his own colleagues reducing him to a political scapegoat.

Jaswant Singh must also explain to the nation why he chose to make this crucial revelation at the eleventh hour. He could have made this statement at any time in the past if he was indeed privy to this truth for all these while. The truth is that BJP made a mistake during the Kandahar episode and instead of owning up to it,the party is trying every trick in order to wriggle out of the controversy. The party must introspect and put an end to this web of lies.

Stop the shoes

It is high time that the practice of forgiving those who throw shoes at public leaders was stopped. It has grown beyond a mere cause of embarrassment and will soon reach a level where even state assemblies or Parliament might witness independent MLA or MPs hurling a shoe at the chair or any other leader. Stringent action must be taken against those caught making this mischief.

I agree with BJP’s Balbir Punj that prime minister must not forgive anyone who hurls a shoe at him. The office of the prime minister is an institution that represents all Indian people,so is the office of leader of Opposition. Any attempt to throw a shoe at them — that too for nothing but cheap publicity — must be severely punished. Those who try to repeat this act in the legislature must have their membership revoked immediately.

The writer is a Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha

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