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The Rediff Special/Onkar Singh
May 16, 2005
Who is the new Chief Election Commissioner of India?
B B Tandon.
On Monday he took over as the 14th chief election commissioner from T S Krishnamurthy, who laid down office on Sunday.
An officer of the 1965 batch of the Indian Administrative Service from Himachal Pradesh, he was secretary (personnel) before he moved to the Election Commission.
A post-graduate in economics, Tandon has an LLB from the University of Delhi.
The office of the election commissioner carries the status of a judge of the Supreme Court.
How long he has been with the Election Commission?
He was appointed election commissioner by then President K R Narayanan.
He took charge on June 13, 2001.
Is he a member of any other commission?
He is a member of the Delimitation Commission from July 12, 2002.
What is his tenure as chief election commissioner?
He will hold the post till June 2006.
Among his major tasks will be holding elections in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Pondicherry early next year.
Which cadre does he belong to?
An IAS officer, he opted to serve in Himachal Pradesh.
Which offices did he hold before being appointed CEC?
Tandon served as a member of the Commission on Constitutional and Electoral Reforms set up by the Mauritius government in November 2001.
The commission made suggestions on changes in the Constitution and electoral laws of Mauritius to consolidate and strengthen democracy in the country.
Before he moved to the Election Commission he was secretary in the Department of Personnel, Government of India, for two and a half years.
Being the International Observer, he held discussions with the deputy prime minister and co-minister for interior of government of Cambodia and the chairman, National Election Committee of Cambodia.
As additional secretary, he worked in the Cabinet Secretariat and Finance Ministry, Department of Company Affairs.
What differentiates the CEC from the two election commissioners? Is he more powerful than the election commissioners?
The chief election commissioner is the face of the election body. All three elections commissioners have the same powers. As the chief, he presides over meetings of the full commission. Generally, the two election commissioners go along with his views.
While the President can 'withdraw his pleasure' in respect to the appointment of the two election commissioners, the chief election commissioner can only be removed after an impeachment notice is passed in Parliament.
Where does the Election Commission operate from? What are its functions?
The Election Commission operates from Nirvachan Sadan on Ashoka Road, New Delhi. It is a constitutional body that is responsible for conducting elections to the Lok Sabha, state assemblies under provisions of the People's Representation Act.
It is also responsible for updating electoral rolls.
Why has the Election Commission come to hold such an important place in the eyes of the public?
Credit for this goes to then chief election commissioner T N Seshan, who started implementing the Commission's orders strictly. He was followed by Dr M S Gill, J M Lyndogh, T S Krishnamurthy, who also insisted on strict adherence to the model code of conduct during elections.
What did Mr Tandon feel about the recent controversy involving him and his colleague N Gopalaswami for allegedly making casteist comments?
'The developments have been most unfortunate. I have been greatly pained and hurt over the developments since May 7, with wild and baseless allegations being made against me and my esteemed colleague N Gopalaswami. In particular, the scurrilous allegations that we made certain derogatory remarks against a particular community and that we wanted to teach a lesson to a particular leader is most reprehensible. It was a deliberate and calculated attempt to denigrate and undermine the credibility, political neutrality and fair-mindedness of the Election Commission. I can assure you that such attempts can never succeed in deterring me, my colleagues and the commission from discharging our constitutional responsibility in an objective, impartial and totally apolitical manner,' Tandon said.
What will his priority be?
His priority will be to complete the electoral rolls with photographs so that nobody can cast bogus votes.
Photograph: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images
Headline Image: Uday Kuckian