BJP calls Chawla’s appointment ‘unfortunate’


New Delhi : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday said Navin Chawla’s appointment as the next chief election commissioner was “unfortunate” and it was an “affront to Indian democracy”.

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“The appointment (Chawla) is an affront to the Indian democracy. It is unfortunate that he has now been appointed chief election commissioner,” BJP’s general secretary Arun Jaitley said here.

“He comes to this office with a whole baggage of history of his past and recent conduct,” he told reporters.

President Pratibha Patil Wednesday appointed Chawla, an election commissioner, as the next chief election commissioner. Chawla, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the 1969 batch, will take over the charge after the incumbent, N. Gopalaswami, retires April 20.

“The onus on him to show that he is politically not attached (to the Congress party) is going to be very heavy. We will continue to watch the situation very closely,” Jaitley said.

The appointment came after a controversy as Gopalaswami had recommended to the president in January that Chawla should be removed from the poll panel as he was biased.

Gopalaswami’s letter triggered an unseemly fracas in the constitutional panel and a bitter war of words between the Congress-led government and the main opposition BJP.

The BJP then said Chawla must be sacked since he had always been partial. The Congress, however, said the opposition party was politicising the issue ahead of the polls.

“The clean chit to Chawla was not given by any independent authority. It was given by the ruling political party, which has been the beneficiary of the biasness of Chawla,” Jaitley said.

He also said that the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore proves that Pakistan has become a “Talibanised” and failed state.

“There is also no distinction (in Pakistan) between state actors and non-state actors,” Jaitley said, adding that Indians should stop differentiating between the two.