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Poll timing EC’s right, says Gill
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 13
The timing of holding elections in the country is the prerogative of the Election Commission and the government of the day cannot dictate it, former Chief Election Commissioner Manohar Singh Gill has said.

“The commission is to choose appropriate dates, taking into account many factors within the outer limitation of the six months’ time between two sessions of the House set by the Constitution”, Dr Gill emphasised in an exclusive interview to The Tribune.

He said the Constitution had indirectly given this power to the Election Commission and it had been upheld by the Supreme Court.

The former CEC was reacting to the statement by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that the new government will be in place by April.

He noted that the situation in India was different from that in Britain where the Prime Minister chose his time, announced the dates and the voting was held a few weeks later.

Asked about reports on the appointment of the new Chief Election Commissioner following the superannuation of Mr J.M. Lyngdoh in the first week of February, Dr Gill said the government had set the precedent of appointing the seniormost Election Commissioner as the CEC.

“As Mr T.S. Krishnamurthy is the seniormost of the two Election Commissioners, the correct decision in national interest in my eyes leads only to his appointment as CEC,” he observed.

The former CEC said the question of appointment to the commission had been settled since his time that of the three members, one would be from North, another from South and the third from the East.

He said “as Mr Krishnamurthy had been appointed by this very government, it should not have any problem in elevating him as the CEC.

On the holding of elections, Dr Gill said in a country of a billion people and a voter list of about 640 million, the EC needed a minimum period for making the vast administrative arrangements.

He said even if the Prime Minister, going by all indications, dissolved the House on February 1, the commission had six months’ time within which to organise the general election. Moreover, the revision of the voters’ list, which was going on, was unlikely to be finished till the third week of March.

Further, the commission required at least a fortnight to hold three-phased polling as each state insisted on Central paramilitary force for free and fair poll.

Given this scenario, the former CEC said the elections could be held from the last week of April and the process completed by May 15.

“The ideal time would be between April 25 and May 10, taking various factors into consideration,” he opined. 

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