Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora on Saturday broke his silence on the row over election commissioner Ashok Lavasa’s dissent. Lavasa, in a letter, said that he has recused himself from the Election Commission’s meetings to discuss the issues regarding the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), accusing the poll body of supressing minority decisions taken by him in several cases.
"The 3 members of EC are not expected to be template or clones of each other, there have been so many times in the past when there has been a vast diversion of views as it can and should be. But they remained the same largely remained within confines of ECI…." Arora said in an official statement.
Hitting out at Lavasa without taking his name, the CEC questioned the timing of the controversy and said that eloquence of silence was difficult but far more desirable.
"…eloquence of silence is always difficult but far more desirable which is far to see the election process through instead of creating ill-timed controversies," he said.
Following the report of Lavasa’s dissent, a political row broke out with the main Opposition Congress party slamming the Narendra Modi government for the “erosion of institutional integrity” of the Election Commission. The Congress termed Lavasa’s dissent “another dark day for democracy”.
The disagreement over the Election Commission’s clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah for their alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) broke open a rift among the election commissioners with Ashok Lavasa recusing himself from all the meetings to discuss poll code issues. Lavasa claimed that minority decisions taken by him in several cases were supressed by the commission.
"Minority decisions recorded by me in several cases continue to be suppressed in a manner contrary to well-established conventions observed by multi-member statutory bodies," Mr Lavasa wrote to the Chief Election Commissioner on May 16. "...It appears futile for me to participate in the deliberations of the commission until its lawful functioning is restored in terms of including the minority decisions recorded by me," NDTV quoted Lavasa as saying.
After Lavasa’s protest, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora called a meeting with him. Arora reportedly said that minority decisions can only be recorded in quasi-judicial proceedings and the decision to give clean chits in poll code violations were not quasi-judicial proceedings.