M A I N   N E W S

Krishna Murthy to be new CEC
Promises quick decision on LS poll
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 19
The General Election in March/April appears imminent, with the government today appointing Mr T.S. Krishna Murthy as the next Chief Election Commissioner, who promised to take quick decision on the poll schedule.

Mr Krishna Murthy will take over from Mr J.M. Lyngdoh, whose term ends on February 7. Mr Krishna Murthy was appointed EC in January, 2000 and will remain CEC till May, 2005 when he will be 65 years, beyond which a person cannot continue in that post.

Chief Electoral Officers from across the country will meet in the Capital in the first week of February to discuss the poll dates after reviewing the progress of electoral rolls revision and issue of electoral photo identity cards (EPICs).

While talking to mediapersons in Chennai, Mr Krishna Murthy said the commission wanted the electoral rolls completed and EPIC coverage in each district and constituency to touch the national average of 66 per cent by January 31. As per the current deadline, the countrywide electoral rolls were to be completed by March 23.

He, however, stated that the commission needed time to get prepared, discuss various options and only after reviewing the ground realities could it decide on the dates.

Mr Krishna Murthy said the commission would discuss with various agencies like Home Ministry regarding the deployment of forces, CEOs of states, the availability of poll staff and other infrastructure and also the school holidays.

Mr Krishna Murthy said: “The Election Commission is a collective body and not one individual taking a decision.” He said: “We will review the present ground realities. Anyhow, the House is also not dissolved yet”.

Asked about reports that the government was planning to bring an outsider as CEC and he had threatened to quit if such an appointment was made, he said: “It was only a media speculation. Let us not speculate more on it.”

Mr Krishna Murthy said he was “very happy” and “never had anything to worry about it (appointment).”

Former CEC M.S. Gill told The Tribune that he was happy that the government had maintained and continued with the tradition of appointing the senior-most EC as the CEC.

He said the government should immediately appoint the third member of the Election Commission and follow the set tradition of appointing one from North, South and East. As Mr Lyngdoh, who represented the East, the government should appoint one from that part of the country, as that region is often neglected.

Mr Krishna Murthy will be the 13th CEC. His term as CEC will be the second shortest after fourth Election Commissioner of India, Nagendra Singh, who occupied the post for only five months from October 1, 1972, to February 6, 1973.

The Election Commission of India is a permanent constitutional body. It was established in accordance with the Constitution on January 25, 1950. Originally, the Commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner. At present, it comprises a Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.

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