Neena Vyas

We will await final government decision

Centre must respond to bias charge

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday reiterated that its reading of the constitutional position was that Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami’s recommendation of removal from office of Election Commissioner Navin Chawla was “binding” on the government.

Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said the party would consider the options before it in the event of the government rejecting the recommendation. “We will await the final decision of the government before taking the next step,” he said. He said the government should respond to the charge of political bias levelled at Mr. Chawla by the Chief Election Commissioner.

He said he did not favour an interpretation of the Constitution that the three Election Commissioners, including the CEC, could be removed only through a process of impeachment and the CEC did not have power or authority to suo motu make the kind of recommendation he did about a fellow Election Commissioner.

While holding the position – BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley articulated the party’s position on Saturday and Mr. Prasad on Monday – that under the Constitution the CEC had the power to suo motu make such a recommendation, Mr. Prasad did not respond when asked why the BJP had first sent its petition against Mr. Chawla to the then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in March 2006 and not to the CEC, if its reading of the Constitution was that the CEC was the sole authority to take a view on removal of an Election Commissioner. He only said that the party had subsequently approached the CEC in January 2008.

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