Being a Dynasty loyalist is the least of Navin Chawla’s distinctions. He primarily distinguished himself as Sanjay Gandhi’s hit man during the Emergency, a disgraceful preeminence, which many of us care to recall now. Adequate credit should go the man’s shrewdness that he managed to scale height after height despite being pronounced “unfit to hold any public office which demands an attitude of fair play and consideration for others.”
His shrewdness has stood him in good stead given his position as one of the Election Commissioners, a dynastic dole bestowed upon him. However, his personal sagacity continues to endanger decency and democratic norms.
The Congress party’s open support to Navin Chawla is but a subterfuge for rigging the elections, now suddenly, starkly visible on the horizon. We are eerily reminded of the Congress party’s well-ingrained allergy to concepts such as democratic processes, pluralism, and terms such as free and fair. No credit goes to the Congress for its surprise stab at power in 2004. The evidence for this is its haste in wooing traditional rivals just so it could retaste the spoils of office. The Left, throughout its remote-control participation in the UPA unholy alliance, was a more vocal opponent of its own government than the BJP/NDA. Manmohan Singh was one of the richest Prime Ministers in recent Indian history to assume office. In five years, he has managed to undo most of what the NDA had accomplished. Which reminds us when he last spoke about development plans for the country.
Navin Chawla may not singlehandedly steer the Congress party to a triumphant victory. However, given the office he occupies, he has the potential to inflict substantial damage not just on the poll process but to the credibility of the Election Commission itself.
In addition, the media seems to have abandoned even the pretence of fair reporting. It has reduced the dictum of the “watchdog of democracy” to a new low. Over the past three or so days, the media has indulged in every form of both overt and covert support by some extremely creative reportage. From word play to tossing allegations back and forth and editorializing Congress politicians’ partisan statements to quoting out of context to quoting dubious experts, it has shown that its reporting is partisan.
Large sections of the public are already outraged at the Congress party’s flagrant flouting of Part XV of the Constitution, which is worth reproducing in full.
PART XV: ELECTIONS
324. (5) Subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, the conditions of service and tenure of office of the Election Commissioners and the Regional Commissioners shall be such as the President may by rule determine:
- Provided that the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be removed from his office except in like manner and on the like grounds as a Judge of the Supreme Court and the conditions of service of the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment:
- Provided further that any other Election Commissioner or a Regional Commissioner shall not be removed from office except on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner.
Mr. Gopalaswami is entirely within his rights in exercising what the Constitution bestows upon the CEC. To quote a friend, “it would be extraordinary for President Patil to return [the CEC's] recommendation, just like it is extraordinary for the president to return a bill without signing.” Besides, the CEC has conclusively shown the reasons why Navin Chawla is unfit to stay on as an Election Commissioner. As newer news trickles in, the list of Navin Chawla’s misdemeanours grows longer. This is apart from the 12 instances of his partisan behaviour. The latest news is Mr.Gopalaswami’s revelation of Chawla’s frequent breaks to the washroom, which miraculously resulted in frantic phone calls from Congress bosses.
If the Congress party gets away with this, it will be yet another backhanded blow to our democracy. The nation will witness the same chaos that the UPA ushered in since 2004–from stagnating the economy to failing to provide a sense of security to the Indian people to communalizing the society.
In the long run, this will prove counter productive to the Congress but the damage would’ve been inflicted.
Navin Chawla must go.
Tags: CEC Gopalaswami, Commentary, Congress Party, Election Commissioner, Elections 2004, Elections 2009, Indian Democracy, Indian Media, Indian Politics, Indian Secularism, Media Watch, Navin Chawla, Politics, UPA