Departure of Ashok Lavasa from the Election Commission leaves many questions unanswered
Why would an Election Commissioner in line to be the CEC accept a position as VP in Asian Development Bank ? And why would the Government approve it after hounding him ?
Curious case of Ashok Lavasa
The resignation of Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, with two more years to go for his term to come to an end, is both sad and shocking. It is sad because someone who was in line to become the Chief Election Commissioner of India has decided to quit and become a Vice President in Asian Development Bank. It is shocking because Mr Lavasa and his wife were being hounded by the Government for alleged Income Tax and financial irregularities. Why would the same Government give its approval to Mr Lavasa taking up the assignment abroad?
The inevitable conclusion many people will reach is that the Government stepped in to ensure that Mr Lavasa does not become the Chief Election Commissioner even for a brief period. It is in the public domain how Mr Lavasa had strongly argued in favour of action against the Prime Minister and several BJP leaders for violation of Model Code of Conduct during last year’s general election. While Mr Lavasa was overruled by the other two commissioners, Income Tax notices and media leaks insinuating his family’s alleged financial deals began soon after the election.
While the Government has had its way and removed a potential irritant from the Election Commission, the manner in which Mr Lavasa’s exit has been engineered---possibly the first such instance of an Election Commissioner quitting before his term—will leave a bad taste for a long time to come.
Sons of the soil
The video announcement of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan that henceforth all state government jobs would go to the sons of the soil need not perhaps be taken too seriously. Such statements have been made in the past from time to time in various states and almost always they were meant to appease popular, public sentiment. It is like governments which cannot give jobs can announce that all jobs would be for the sons of the soil.
But two caveats need to be made. The worthy CM must be asked to define ‘son of the soil’. Will he accept people born in the state as sons of the soil or those who have grown up in the state, studied in the state and have been domiciled in the state for more than 10 years?
While it is almost certain that 95% or more of MP government employees are sons of the soil—and so would be the case in other states— such parochial and political statements serve very little purpose. Besides being violative of the Constitution, such a provision throws up another interesting conundrum. When the Governor, Chief Justice and Advisors can be from other states, why can’t doctors and teachers be from other states?
Only very foolish political leaders close their doors to talent from outside.
The Supreme Court of India has been in the news in recent months for all the wrong reasons. It was known as a powerful court of appeal. But of late it seems to be more a court for the powerful. Its rulings have been increasingly predictable and partisan and its engagement with the law, lawyers and legal principles have progressively weakened. I read a legal scholar comment that during the pandemic the apex court successfully “comforted the comfortable and afflicted those already afflicted” while it should have been the other way round.
The scholar commented that the only government action that the SC found fault with during the pandemic was an order requiring employers to pay workers’ wages for 54 days.
It is significant to see JNU, Jamia and AMU coming out with flying colours in the central government’s own rankings. Not only has Jamia, established with the approval of Mahatma Gandhi by nationalist Indians, topped the ranking once again this year, as many as 30 of its students and ex-students have been declared successful for the Indian Administrative Service.
It is sad that a section of the media played along with political reactionaries and the police to describe these universities as antinational because their students stood with the common man and sided with people’s protests.