Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party has demanded that Election Commissioner Navin Chawla "step down" from his office or "face action" by the party. It would do "whatever was necessary" to "get him out" of that job.

The provocation for the demand was the "expose" by a television channel that has reported that Mr. Chawla has accepted money from several Congress MPs for trusts run by him and his family members. The money was given by the MPs from their Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme.

BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley said he did not want to get into the question whether giving of that money from MPLADS was within the rules or not. He also said it was not material whether those funds were given after or before Mr. Chawla took the job of Election Commissioner. He stressed that for the moment his party wanted to make an issue of the "closeness" of Mr. Chawla to 10 Janpath.

He said Mr. Chawla "should introspect" and step down, or else the BJP would be constrained "to do what was necessary to get him out."

Mr. Jaitley was asked whether by any action or decision as Election Commissioner Mr. Chawla had been guilty of impropriety or had shown partiality to one political party.

He brushed aside the questions, saying it was a question of "reasonable apprehension" that he would not be fair.