Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa who dissented in four decisions taken by the Election Commission giving clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah in cases of alleged violation of poll code has reportedly recused himself from attending meetings on deciding violations.
PM Modi was given a clean chit in three cases, while Shah was let off in one incident of violation of the model code of conduct during election campaigns.
The “full Commission” which takes such decisions comprises Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and fellow election commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra.
The decisions were taken based on 2:1 majority as per prescribed law which governs the functioning of the poll panel.
According to reports, Ashok Lavasa has opted out of the decision making meetings on MCC since May 4 claiming his “minority decisions were going unrecorded”.
NDTV quoted a letter by Lavasa to the Chief Election Commissioner as saying, “I am being forced to stay away from the meetings of the full commission since minority decisions are not being recorded. “My participation in the deliberations of the Commission becomes meaningless since my minority decisions go unrecorded.”
“I might consider taking recourse to other measures aimed at restoring the lawful functioning of the Commission in terms of recording minority decisions. My various notes on the need for transparency in the recording and disclosure of all decisions including the minority view have gone unheeded, forcing me to withdraw from participating in the deliberations on the complaints,” he further wrote.
The Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991 states that if the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners differ in opinion on any matter, such matter shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority.
The EC took nearly a month to dispose of complaints against PM Modi and Amit Shah on the Model Code of Conduct violations.
Finally, it disposed of the cases against the two leaders on May 3 after the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Election Commission.
PM Modi and Amit Shah have been accused of making “hate speeches” and “using” the armed forces for “political propaganda” during their Lok Sabha poll campaigns.
One case pertains to PM Modi’s speech at Wardha on April 1 where he attacked Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for contesting from minority-dominated Wayanad seat.
“Rahul Gandhi went out with a microscope to look for a safe seat to contest and selected a seat where the majority is in minority,” the PM had said.
In another case, the EC said that PM Modi did not violate the poll code in his appeal to first-time voters by invoking the Balakot air strikes and the soldiers killed in Pulwama in Maharashtra’s Latur on April 9.
Finally, PM Modi’s “terrorists are frightened after Balakot attack” remark at a rally in Karnataka too was cleared by the poll body.
The EC also absolved Amit Shah for a statement where he likened the Wayanad constituency to Pakistan.
The Supreme Court too had refused to pass any order on the petition filed by the Congress on clean chit given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah by the Election Commission.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said they could not go into orders passed by the poll panel unless these were challenged on specific grounds.