Allegations With Little Facts: New Election Commission Chief OP Rawat's Dig At AAP

 
Allegations With Little Facts: New Election Commission Chief OP Rawat's Dig At AAP

 

NEW DELHI:  OP Rawat, who took over as the Chief Election Commissioner today told NDTV, that the poll body had always been "neutral and unbiased", an assertion that comes against the backdrop of the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party dragging the poll panel into an unseemly controversy after its "opinion" led to the disqualification of 20 AAP lawmakers.

Mr Rawat brushed aside the allegations that had been levelled against the poll panel.

"Some people have their perception and with little facts at hand, they make allegations," Mr Rawat said in an interview that saw the country's top election official also talk about the possibility of simultaneous elections, the need to keep criminals out of electoral politics and the controversial election in Chennai's RK Nagar that saw large-scale influence of money power.

"The thing is that not every stakeholder, player in the arena has access to 360 degree comprehensive information. Based on their incomplete information, they may be making a perception where they may be developing a feeling that something partial has been done," Mr Rawat told NDTV.

Mr Rawat said the Election Commission takes "corrective measures immediately" whenever facts are brought to its attention. No action was taken on the AAP complaints "no action is obviously required".

Last week, the Election Commission wrapped up a long-pending complaint that 20 AAP lawmakers had violated the Office of Profit provision by accepting the position of parliamentary secretary in the Delhi government back in 2015 and asked President Ram Nath Kovind to disqualify the lawmakers.

The AAP promptly claimed that the 20 lawmakers had not been heard. But the commission's opinion indicates that when the lawmakers were asked to come up with their version, they had repeated the points that they had made earlier.

Mr Rawat had initially recused himself from hearing the AAP case last year after statements from AAP leaders questioning his independence because he was seen to be close to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

But he again started dealing with the case from September last year when AAP leaders next claimed that an opinion delivered by only two - and not the full quorum of three election commissioners - would not be valid.

On the possibility of simultaneous elections in 2019, Mr Rawat said this would be possible only after the legal framework was ready. It would need amendments to the Constitution, Representation of the People Act and other laws. "Once that framework is ready, the logistical issues can be addressed very quickly," he said.

Mr Rawat also reiterated the poll panel's push for keeping convicted criminals out of electoral politics. "We agree with the public interest petition filed in the Supreme Court," he said. The existing law only bars convicts from contesting elections for six years after serving the sentence.

Source: (ndtv.com)