Advani wants oppn say in selecting CEC

The chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi is set to retire this month. Before the government decides about a new name to fill the vacant post, the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L K Advani has written to the prime minister asking him to revise the process of appointing members of the Election Commission. In the letter the senior BJP leader advocates transparency for the appointment of members to the commission.

'The present system whereby members to the Election Commission are appointed by the President, solely on the advice of the Prime Minister does not evoke confidence among the people. Keeping these important decisions as the exclusive preserve of the ruling party renders the selection process vulnerable to manipulation and partisanship,' says Advani in the letter to the prime minister.

In an indirect reference to the appointment of the former election commissioner Navin Chawla, the BJP leader writes that 'the credibility of this system was severely dented when a dubious appointment to the crucial office of CEC was made a few years ago. The time has, therefore, come to reform the selection process for the EC and other Constitutional bodies, as has indeed been done in the case of the CVC and CIC'.

In 2009, the former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami had sent his recommendation to the president regarding the removal of the election commissioner Navin Chawla. Gopalaswami had alleged that Chawla had discharged his duties in a partisan manner and was seen to favour a particular political party.

In the letter, Advani has suggested that the new members of the election commission must be appointed by a broad collegium, comprising the prime minister, the chief justice of India, the law minister along with the two leaders of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

The Congress, however, dismissed Advani's suggestions. 'There is nothing wrong with the process of selecting the CEC and CAG. This is an attempt to divert attention from his blog,' said Harish Rawat, the minister of state for parliamentary affairs, in a reference to the infighting in the BJP which intensified after Advani made a controversial blog post.
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