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BJP demands EC Chawla's dismissal
K G Suresh in Vadodara | April 08, 2006 13:18 IST
Stepping up the campaign against Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, Leader of Opposition L K Advani on Saturday said the Attorney General's "clearance" to him is a "technicality".
Advani said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should refer to the chief election commissioner the memorandum submitted by the National Democratic Alliance demanding Chawla's removal from the constitutional post.
"This is not a matter of legality but propriety. The question is whether his (Chawla's) background and antecedents make him fit to hold a constitutional position where objectivity and non-partisanship are principal touchstones," Advani told a press conference in Surat on the third day of his 6,000-km-long 'Bharat Suraksha Yatra'.
Maintaining that as per the Constitution, only the chief election commissioner had the authority to examine allegations against Chawla and the government had no role in it, the BJP leader said President A P J Abdul Kalam might be approached for the third time on the issue.
"The Shah Commission appointed by the Janata Party government had indicted him (Chawla) and made serious allegations against him. He should not have been appointed in the first place as per Constitutional provisions. Neither the government nor the attorney general has any role to play in this regard," Advani added.
Attacking Dr Singh, he said the memorandum against Chawla signed by 205 opposition MPs was forwarded by President Kalam to the prime minister on March 20 but the latter decided to take the advice of the attorney general instead of sending it to the CEC.
Advani said, "The past conduct of Chawla cannot be divorced from his present status as a member of the Commission because he cannot be expected to act in an unbiased manner.
"As an election commissioner, his questionable past can seriously impinge on his neutrality to act in a free and fair manner."
Advani also alleged that evidence was coming as to how in 1994 Chawla sought permission to establish a trust with himself being a trustee and the same was turned down.
"Very surprisingly this file is now missing and in 1996 when he sought permission again, he did not mention the fact of his earlier rejection. All this shows the mala fide intention of Chawla," the BJP leader said.
On the office-of-profit issue, Advani said he and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh have received a letter from Leader of Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee on the issue.
After mutual consultations, it was decided that BJP would give a "considered response" only after the government gives a proposal, he said, adding, "We have written to them that there should be no amendment to the Members of Parliament (Disqualification) Act which undermines Article 102 and 103 pertaining to holders of offices of profit."
Advani said while elections to Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar Assemblies established the poll panel's credibility, the upcoming elections to West Bengal Assembly posed a "major challenge as scientific rigging was the norm there". He charged both the Communist parties with developing "vested interests" to ensure that the elections in the state continue to be subject to manipulation.
On the elections to Rae Bareli, Advani said party leaders had a preliminary discussion on the issue and "we are very much interested in it". The party will decide on it after due consultations, he said.
On the Ram temple issue, Advani said the party had to abandon the legislative option due to coalition compulsions and a negotiated settlement would create unprecedented goodwill and harmony in the country.
To a question, Advani said any settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir issue would be incomplete without rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits.