CEC denies Modi rift in EC, Cong mocks NaMo with 'black day for democracy' barb

New Delhi, May 18: Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora Saturday described as "unsavory" and "avoidable" reports that fellow commissioner Ashok Lavasa has decided to recuse himself from meetings related to model code violations till he is not allowed to record his dissent.

He also said in the last meeting of the commission on May 14, it was "unanimously" decided to form groups to deliberate issues which arose in the course of conduct of Lok Sabha elections.

"Out of the 13 issues/areas which were identified, model code of conduct is one of them," Arora said in a statement.

He said the report on Lavasa's decision not to take part in model code related issues comes at a time when the poll watchdog is gearing up for the last phase of Lok Sabha polls and counting of votes.

"The three members of the ECI are not expected to be template 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 the ECI," Arora said.

The poll panel's laws suggest preference for an unanimous view, but provide for a majority ruling in the absence of unanimity.

In a strongly-worded letter to Arora on May 4, Lavasa is learnt to have said he is being forced to stay away from the meetings of the full commission since minority decisions are not being recorded.

He is also learnt to have said his participation in the meeting is "meaningless" as his dissent remained unrecorded.

Lavasa said his notes on the need for transparency have not been responded to so he has decided to stay away from model code related complaints.

The EC's legal division had opined that dissent cannot be recorded on decisions as model code violations are not part of a quasi judicial hearing where all the three -- the CEC and two fellow commissioners sign.

The majority view is conveyed to the parties concerned.The dissent remains recorded in the file only and not made public.

Lavasa had dissented in some of the 11 decisions the EC took on complaints against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah for alleged model code violations. The two were given a clean chit in all the decisions.

The Congress on Saturday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa's letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora over his dissent in the EC decisions in going unrecorded and asked whether it was "Election Commission or Election Omission".

Insisting that erosion of institutional integrity was the hallmark of the Modi government, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted: "Election Commission OR Election Omission! Another Dark Day for Democracy! Ashok Lavasa, Member CEC, who dissented on multiple occasions when the EC was busy giving clean chits to Modi-Shah duo, opts out of EC as the ECI even refuse to record dissent notes."

He further said: "Erosion of institutional integrity is the hallmark of the Modi government! The SC judges going public, the RBI Governor resigning, the CBI Director getting removed, the CVC giving vacuous reports and now the divisions in the Election Commission! Will the EC save itself the embarrassment by recording Lavasa's dissent notes."  

With Agencies