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EC Lavasa absent at announcement of Jharkhand poll schedule


Ashok Lavasa


New Delhi: Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, who had given a dissent note on the clean chit given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on allegations of model code violation during the Lok Sabha polls, was on Friday conspicuous by his absence at a press conference here where the schedule for Jharkhand Assembly elections was announced.

The schedule was announced by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, with another Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, Secretary General Umesh Sinha, Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena, also present on the dais. Deputy Commissioners were also present.

During the press conference, Arora, who heads a three-member Election Commission, was asked by a journalist why Lavasa was not present and whether it was not unusual that one of the Commissioners was not there.

In his reply, the CEC said Lavasa had gone abroad.

"I have spoken to him (Lavasa) on phone, at length and I have recorded on the file. He can go abroad... No EC can go abroad without the permission of President of India. Am sure you are aware. In fact, no EC can take even a CL without the permission of the President of India. So I don't know why you are finding it unusual," Arora said.

During the Lok Sabha elections, Congress had alleged that Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah had violated the model code of conduct by highlighting the air strike carried out in Pakistan's Balakot to seek votes.

The Election Commission gave a clean chit to both of them but Lavasa, in a letter to Arora on May 4, had reportedly said that he was being forced to stay away from the meetings of the full Commission since minority decisions were not being recorded.

The EC on Friday announced five-phased Assembly polls in Jharkhand, beginning November 30.

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