NEW DELHI: Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora on Saturday termed as “unsavoury and avoidable” the controversy surrounding the recording of minority decisions on the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa’s letter to him in this regard.
He said an Election Commission (EC) meeting was scheduled on Tuesday to “discuss this and related matters”.
In a statement issued here, Arora said: “There has been an unsavoury and avoidable controversy reported in sections of the media today about the internal functioning of Election Commission of India with respect to the handling of the Model Code of Conduct.”
“This has come at a time when all the CEOs (Chief Electoral Officers) and their teams across the country are geared towards the seventh and last phase of polling tomorrow followed by the gigantic task of counting on May 23,” he said.
The statement said that the last EC meeting on May 14 “unanimously decided” that some groups shall be formed to deliberate the issues, which arose in the course of the conduct of Lok Sabha Elections 2019, just as it was done after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
“The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) was one of the 13 issues/areas which were identified,” he added.
The CEC insisted that Lavasa’s letter on the MCC was an internal matter of the poll panel. “It needs to be clarified categorically and unambiguously that this is purely an internal matter of ECI and as such any speculation, innuendos and insinuations in this regard should be eschewed,” it said.
Arora said there had been differences between the Election Commission (EC) members in the past, but he believed that “eloquence of silence” was far more desirable “than creating ill-timed controversies”.
“The three members of the ECI are not expected to be templates or clones of each other. There have been so many times in the past when there has been a vast diversion of views as it can and should be.
“But the same largely remained within the confines of ECI till demission of office. Unless appearing much later in a book written by the concerned ECs (Election Commissioners) or CECs,” he said.
Arora said he had personally never shied away from a public debate whenever required “but there is time for everything”.
“There was a reason I told a leading daily a few days back, that eloquence of silence is always difficult but far more desirable to see the election process through, instead of creating ill-timed controversies,” he said.
Arora said all the Chief Electoral Officers and senior EC officials have given their utmost in the last six phases of the elections, which barring an odd incident here or there, have been largely peaceful and conducted in a fair, free and transparent manner.
In his letter to Arora, Lavasa recused himself from attending Full Commission meetings held to decide on MCC violations, after his dissent on the clean chit given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah on their respective speeches, went unrecorded.
Lavasa, in his letter, insisted that he would attend the EC meetings if his minority decisions were also included in the orders of the Commission.
The three-member “Full Commission” consists of the CEC and two Election Commissioners, Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra.