Modi government readies to select Election Commissioners amidst controversy.

Modi government readies to select Election Commissioners amidst controversy.

Modi government readies to select Election Commissioners amidst controversy.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, stands as the sole opposition representative on the three-person committee responsible for selecting election commissioners. The committee comprises the Prime Minister, alongside another minister, making Chowdhury’s presence critical in ensuring opposition participation and a balanced selection process for the crucial electoral oversight positions.

The Union government has informed Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of its intention to convene a meeting very soon to address the vacancy in the Election Commission of India (ECI), following the sudden resignation of election commissioner Arun Goel. As reported by the Economic Times, the current composition of the EC stands with only one member, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, whereas it is meant to have three members. Election commissioner Anup Pandey had retired on February 15, further highlighting the need to fill the vacancies promptly.

Chowdhury, who leads the Congress in the Lok Sabha, serves as the sole opposition member on the selection committee tasked with appointing election commissioners. The committee includes the Prime Minister and another government minister. Chowdhury has expressed his readiness to attend the meeting once the date is set, but he also raised questions about the circumstances surrounding Goel’s abrupt resignation. He wondered whether there was any connection to a potential “quid pro quo” and questioned the government’s delay in filling the position left vacant by Pandey’s retirement.

Under the provisions of the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Act, 2023, the government-led selection committee is responsible for appointing candidates shortlisted by a search committee chaired by the Union cabinet secretary.

However, this Act is currently facing a challenge in the Supreme Court. The Court had ruled last year that the selection of ECI members should not be dominated by the government to safeguard the commission’s independence.

Chowdhury, speaking to the Economic Times, stated, “The government side today (Sunday) conveyed to me that very soon a meeting would be convened (of the selection committee) to fill up the vacancies in the Election Commission, but no specific date has been communicated yet.” He emphasized that attending the meeting is his constitutional duty as a member of the search committee.

Expressing his concerns about Goel’s resignation, Chowdhury remarked, “It is very surprising and unprecedented that an election commissioner chose to resign from his post right ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. And yet, he has not given any satisfactory reasons for doing so. There is, therefore, a need to bring clarity on the matter by the concerned quarters.

The delay in filling the vacancies, particularly with the upcoming Lok Sabha elections requiring extensive preparations by the Election Commission, has raised further questions.

How can the government explain this delay?”

Opposition parties have also expressed their concerns about the uncertainty within the Election Commission so close to the general elections. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) issued a statement, highlighting the implications of the new law on the appointment of ECs. They emphasized the need to address these concerns to ensure the credibility of the constitutional entity and its ability to conduct free and fair polls.

Aam Aadmi Party leader Atishi raised questions about the circumstances surrounding Goel’s resignation

Congress MP and communications head Jairam Ramesh also weighed in on the situation, raising pertinent questions. He asked, “

The developments surrounding the Election Commission’s vacancies and the circumstances of Goel’s resignation have drawn significant attention and scrutiny. The role of the selection committee, the government’s handling of the appointments, and the broader implications for the electoral process in India remain critical issues for discussion and deliberation. As the situation unfolds, it will be essential to observe how the government proceeds with the selection process and the responses from various political parties and stakeholders.

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