There is no rethinking State Election Commissioner appointment, Puducherry CM says

The Chief Minister said T.M. Balakrishnan, appointed as the SEC, has already started the process of conducting the upcoming civic body polls

Published - January 01, 2020 03:56 pm IST - PUDUCHERRY

Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy

Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy

Ruling out any rethinking over the appointment of former bureaucrat T. M Balakrishnan as State Election Commissioner (SEC) in the wake of Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) directing the government to select the SEC in a “transparent” manner, Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy on Wednesday said the MHA, in its order, has not cancelled the appointment. Hence Mr. Balakrishnan would oversee the upcoming local body polls.

“The incumbent SEC was appointed after the Speaker gave the right to the elected government to appoint the poll officer. MHA has not cancelled the appointment. Moreover, the MHA or Lieutenant Governor have no power to remove an SEC,” he said addressing a press conference.

In response to the objections raised by Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi over the appointment of the SEC, the MHA last month had directed the government to “select the State Election Commissioner through a transparent, competitive and fair process where the applications are invited through an all India advertisement and is made through a Selection Committee headed by Chief Secretary, for the timely completion of election process.”

The MHA had also vested the power to finalise the terms and reference of the Selection Committee with the Lieutenant Governor.

Asked about the fate of the Lieutenant Governor’s recent order directing the Chief Secretary to finalise the Selection Committee, Mr. Narayanasamy said “the order can be put to dustbin. Mr. Balakrishnan has already started the process to conduct the civic body polls. He will continue with his work.”

The Chief Minister said the government will go to court challenging the MHA order directing the government to transfer money to beneficiaries accounts instead of distributing free rice. The rules framed by the Assembly on the free rice scheme stipulated the distribution of free rice instead of cash. “We will follow the rules and challenge the MHA direction on free rice in the Court,” he added.

The government will launch a new health insurance scheme to cover card holders not benefited under the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat Scheme, he said. The scheme will be implemented from the next financial year. A sum of ₹ 18 crore would be needed to cover around 2. 60 lakh ration card holders, he said.

The Chief Minister also took exception to derogatory remarks made by ‘orator’ Nellai Kannan against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah recently.

“It is not appropriate to make personal remarks against anyone. One can be critical about the policies and programmes,” the Chief Minister said in response to a related query at a press conference.

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