Election Commission always works as a team: new CEC Navin Chawla (Lead)

April 21st, 2009 - 4:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj Party New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) Taking charge as the new Chief Election Commissioner of the country, Navin Chawla Tuesday asserted that the poll panel worked as a team and took all decisions in consensus.
“We are here before you not as one individual but all three of us together. We are a three-member commission and all the decisions are taken jointly,” Chawla told a press conference after taking charge as the new head of the poll panel.

Flanked by Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi and new entrant to the team V.S. Sampath, Chawla said: “On the day I assumed office as election commissioner I took a pledge that I would uphold the Constitution in letter and spirit. Today when I am taking over as CEC, I am reaffirming the pledge.”

He was appointed as one of the members of the commission on May 13, 2005.

Chawla dismissed his bitter rift with predecessor N. Gopalaswami, terming it as a “voice of dissent”.

“There will always be some voices of dissent. A voice of dissent is as important as a voice of assent. There is something to be learnt by the commission from that voice of dissent. It is the only way we can move forward in a composite manner,” a relaxed Chawla, attired in a black bandhgala suit, told reporters.

Chawla has taken over as head of the poll panel in the midst of the elections. He will remain in charge till July 29, 2010, when he turns 65.

He cited the Supreme Court line on the CEC as being first among equals. “We are equal before you. We are not here as an individual but together.”

Reacting to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s charge that the commission was behaving in a partisan manner, Chawla recounted how the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief had praised the functioning of the poll panel when she visited Nirvachan Sadan, headquarters of the commission, after the 2007 state assembly elections which catapulted her to power.

“She came on a Sunday and spent an hour and praised us for holding free, fair and transparent elections in the state,” he said.

Mayawati Tuesday charged the Election Commission of “behaving in a partisan manner and the commissioners Navin Chawla and S.Y. Quraishi were particularly acting like agents of the Congress and Samajwadi Party”.

Asked whether he was worried with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) statement that they would remove him if they came to power, he said: “I have nothing to worry. I am not worried. I learn from dissent.” The BJP had been gunning for his removal, accusing him of being close to the Congress.

He said that 82 percent of the 714 million voters in the country had been equipped with voter I-cards, adding that for several years the commission has been working in this direction.

“For the past three years under (N) Gopalaswami’s leadership, this process was intensified.”

He urged the youth and urban voters to come out and vote in large numbers in the 2009 elections.

Praising the polling staff - mainly teachers and clerks - for “risking their lives”, he said without their courage India’s elections would not have been possible.

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