Monday, February 2, 2009

Chawla must go

The 'secular' voices in the media are unnecessarily trying to create a controversy over the Navin Chawla issue. This case is a reminder of how, once again, the media is trying to obfuscate reality by drumming up a cacophony of sounds based on flimsy grounds.
A simple look at facts ought to make the matter crystal clear. However, the media, which should set the right tone of public discourse, is failing miserably at it. And not for the first time either. All the scepticism seems to originate from the 'timing' of the CEC's recommendation to oust Chawla. A pretty feeble argument considering the damning facts against the conduct of Chawla.
Navin Chawla has a long history of questionable conduct. His integrity has been suspect since about 1979 (3 decades ago) when he was Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi. And a commission under Justice Shah had this to say -
Chawla is “unfit to hold any public office which
demands an attitude of fair play and consideration for others”.
And what were the reasons for this conclusion?
..for “authoritarian and callous” conduct and gross misuse
of power “in cynical disregard of the welfare of citizens”.
A man of integrity would hardly be described thus. Yet a couple of decades later Chawla sets up a trust, headed by his wife and seeks funds from the Congress folks viz. A A Khan, R P Goenka, Ambika Soni, Karan Singh and A R Kidwai. It would be interesting to see if this did not play any part in his being appointed as an Election Commisioner (EC).
Lacking completely in the ability to introspect, this incorrigible man continues his dubious ways even when serving as the EC, which requires a non-partisan conduct. The current Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami has detailed out his blatantly partisan behaviour in his submissions to the President which includes more damning details -
Rajashri Bhattacharya, a 1979 batch IAS officer of the Andhra cadre, had even
complained to the Cabinet Secretary that Chawla had abused him and threatened to get him
arrested. Bhattacharya has since moved to the Planning
Commission. R Balasubramanian, an Orissa cadre IAS officer, is the other deputy election
commissioner who complained to the CEC in writing against Chawla.
Besides his far from ideal functioning during the Uttar Pradesh (UP), Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh (HP) pools too have been questioned in the CEC's report to the President.
As for questioning the 'timing' of the CEC's recommendation against Chawla, a look at facts, rather than seeking motivated 'expert' opinions, would reveal that the circumstances were not entirely in the CECs hands. Chawla has more then his share in causing the delay.
And if there are any questions about him being a Congress stooge, this should make it clear -
In the report to the President, the CEC notes that whenever
the full bench meeting was seized of an issue, Chawla will make an excuse of going to the washroom.
And soon thereafter, invariably, the CEC would get phone calls from top Congress
functionaries even as the meeting was in progress. This amounted to interference
in the functioning of the Election Commission, the CEC felt.
He even tried to protect Sonia Gandhi -
In his report, Gopalaswami also elaborated on the visit of the
prime minister's Principal Secretary T K A Nair to Nirvachan Sadan, which houses the
Election Commission of India in New Delhi, to enquire about the 'notice' being
sent to Congress president Sonia Gandhi on her receiving an award from
With such a mountain of inconvenient facts against Chawla, the 'secular' voices are left to question the motive and the timing rather than the substance. Filter all this noise and it will be clear that there is no case to defend him. Chawla simply must go.

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