Debating India

A-G’s clean chit `irrelevant’: Advani

Sunday 9 April 2006, by DASGUPTA*Manas

"Only Chief Election Commissioner can comment on Chawla’s conduct"

VADODARA: Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L. K. Advani strongly reacted on Saturday to the Attorney General’s reported "clean chit" to Election Commissioner Navin Chawla. It is the UPA Government’s attempt to misuse the Election Commissioner’s services for "partisan purposes," he said.

Talking to the media before resuming his `Bharat Suraksha Yatra’ from here, Mr. Advani said the Attorney-General’s clean chit was "irrelevant" as he had no role to play in the matter and that only the office of the Chief Election Commissioner could comment on Mr. Chawla’s conduct.

Clear indication

He alleged that constitutional norms were being flouted with impunity by the UPA Government. He said the fact that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent the President’s letter on Mr. Chawla to the Attorney-General instead of to the Chief Election Commissioner, the only competent authority in the matter, was clear indication of the Government’s unconstitutional methods. Under Article 324(5) of the Constitution, the President could take action against any Election Commissioner at the recommendation of the CEC, he added.

Mr. Advani said Mr. Chawla’s `proximity’ to the Congress in general and party president Sonia Gandhi was `well known.’ The memorandum, signed by 205 NDA members of Parliament and submitted to the President, had well-documented Mr. Chawla’s `pro-Congress bias’ and `financial dealings’ and demanded his removal as the Election Commissioner due to his inability to be `impartial and unbiased.’

He said two trusts run by Mr. Chawla and his wife received donations of over Rs. 95 lakh from various Congress organisations and Congress MPs from their local area development scheme, besides the Congress Governments in Delhi and Rajasthan. Mr. Chawla’s role during the emergency was also criticised by the Shah Commission.

Not to be divorced

Agreeing that most of the charges levelled against Mr. Chawla was for the period he was a bureaucrat and not the Election Commissioner, he said the issue concerning him was not merely of technicality but propriety. His past could not be divorced from his present and the person known for his bias for one political party could not suddenly be expected to function in an unbiased manner.

Mr. Advani said that a former Congress Minister, Margaret Alva, had confirmed that even in 1994, Mr. Chawla wanted a trust to be registered with himself as its main trustee, which was turned down by the Government. He cautioned the UPA Government that unless it refrained from acting in an unconstitutional manner and immediately sent the NDA MPs’ letter against Mr. Chawla to the CEC, his party and other NDA allies would be forced to approach the President again on the issue.

Replying to a question, Mr. Advani said he saw nothing wrong in Ms. Gandhi re-contesting the elections from Rae Bareli. He disagreed that criminalisation of politics was only limited to Bihar and said the problem surfaced in other States too.

Mr. Advani’s passed through the mostly tribal-dominated backward regions of Broach and Narmada districts before stopping in Surat for the night. The `yatra’ would enter Maharashtra on Sunday. Popular television actor Smriti Irani joined Mr. Advani’s convoy and addressed meetings at some places.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who was with Mr. Advani on the first day but was away from the `yatra’ on Friday, rejoined it on Saturday.

Mr. Advani by and large kept his addresses confined to the `threat to the national security and democracy’ under the UPA.

See online : The Hindu

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