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CEC recommends removal of Navin Chawla
Onkar Singh in New Delhi
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January 31, 2009 10:21 IST
Last Updated: January 31, 2009 13:06 IST

The battle in the Election Commission has assumed unprecedented proportions with Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami recommending to the government that other Election Commissioner Navin Chawla be removed from his post.

A source in Rashtrapati Bhavan [Images] confirmed having received Gopalaswamy's letter seeking removal of Chawla.

"Yes, we have received a letter from the CEC and the same has been forwarded to the Prime Minister's Office," the source told

The recommendation comes about three months before Gopalaswami is to demit office on April 20 and is based on a petition by the BJP which had complained against the "partisan" functioning of Chawla.

The BJP had alleged that Chawla was close to the Congress party

"I did my job. The report has been given," Gopalswami told PTI but declined to elaborate.

The Chief Election Commissioner's recommendation ahead of the general elections brings to the fore the differences among the three-member body which has often been marred by clashes over crucial decisions.

Only last year, Chawla had raised serious objections to the holding of the Karnataka assembly elections in May but was over ruled.

Similarly, he is believed to have also had reservations over the conduct of assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh [Images] in the summer of 2007.

Under the provisions of the Constitution, the recommendation of the CEC was required for the removal of an Election Commissioner. But it is not clear whether the government would act on the suo motu recommendation of the CEC for removal of Chawla.

Sources said that Gopalaswami has believed to have given the recommendation but he was not sure whether the government would accept it.

The Commission works on the principle of consensus and in case of differences, it goes by majority opinion.

Gopalaswami is understood to be of the view that Chawla and the other Election Commissioner S Y Qurashi could get together and ensure that the Lok Sabha elections could very well start after April 20 once he is out of the Commission.

Communist Party of India leader D Raja said that the whole thing smacked of vendetta on behalf of the chief election commissioner. Both Bhartiya Janata Party and Congress have been studying the implications of the recommendations of the CEC's letter at a stage when the country is gearing up for general elections and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] is yet to be fit to preside over the cabinet.

Former Lok Sabha secretary general Subash Kashyap said that the letter had put the government in a fix.

"The president has recommended the letter to the PMO. If Chawla is removed now and with the CEC retiring on April 20 -- in the middle of the elections -- the government will have to appoint a new election commissioner to supervise the elections," he said.

Additional Inputs: PTI

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