UPA not disclosing CEC’s recommendations on Chawla: BJP

April 20th, 2009 - 6:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Monday accused the Congress-led central government of clamming up on outgoing Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami’s recommendations asking for the removal of his colleague Navin Chawla.
On a day that was Gopalaswami’s last day in office, BJP national general secretary Arun Jaitley said despite the Right to Information Act (RTI), he had not been provided a copy of the recommendations sent to the president or the government’s views on the matter.

“A government, which prides itself for openness, has now taken a position that the letter sent by the CEC with recommendations are of a fiduciary nature and because of that, a copy of it cannot be provided,” Jaitley told reporters here.

“I received an answer from the President’s House and from the law ministry Monday afternoon.”

Gopalaswami was reported to have recommended to the president that Chawla be removed from the poll panel as he was biased. The BJP has for years been seeking Chawla’s ouster saying he was pro-Congress. Chawla will succeed Gopalaswami as the poll panel chief.

Jaitley said: “What the CEC thinks about its election commissioner and why he recommended that the latter is biased is an issue of public debate. This is an issue which falls in the public domain. The people of India have a right to know why the CEC made this recommendation rather than rely only on newspaper leaks.”

“RTI is tomtommed as an achievement of the government. I had sent a query under RTI to the law ministry. I had asked for a copy of the recommendations of Gopalaswamiji, who is retiring today, regarding Navin Chawla (election commissioner) which he had sent to the president,” Jaitley said.

“Besides that, I had asked to be provided a copy of the government’s opinion and that of the law ministry on this. The first answer I got was that the query has been forwarded to the President’s House.

“However, I had asked this query to the administration department of the Election Commission,” he said.

He also said the President’s House should not have been dragged into the controversy.

“I am saying this with regret that the President’s House should not have come into the issue. I had not sought any information from the President’s House. The government should not have dragged the prestige of the President’s House into this debate,” he said.

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