As government virtually rejected his recommendation to remove Naveen Chawla as the Election Commissioner, Congress has launched a frontal attack on CEC N Gopalaswami for his action saying there was "congruence of actions" between him and BJP.
The ruling party also dismissed suggestions that the controversy would in any way affect the holding of Lok Sabha elections, saying the "democratic institutions in the country have been assiduously built in the last 62 years to stand all trials and tribulations...".
Shedding its "we don't attack constitutional authorities" stand, Congress said "the circumstances and the manner in which the whole episode has unfolded clearly suggest that there was congruence of actions between BJP and the CEC".
To a query whether Congress would like the impeachment of the CEC for his conduct in recommending the removal of Chawla, party spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters here that "such decisions are not taken at the level of a spokesman".
Alleging that the conduct of the current CEC has been "constitutionally erroneous" throughout this unfortunate episode, Tewari said "BJP for its perceived narrow political ends has sought to undermine, tarnish and destroy the credibility of the Election Commission of India".
The spokesman said the party was not going into the merits of the petition submitted by BJP to the CEC against Chawla and without commenting on the merits of the suo moto recommendations made by the CEC to the President of India and without imputing motives to the CEC.
Tewari's comments came close on the heels of the government ticking off Gopalaswami for seeking the removal of his colleague, telling the CEC that he is not the "political boss" and hinted at Chawla becoming the next CEC in April.
"Gopalaswami should do his work in EC and not become a political boss," Law Minister H R Bhardwaj said on the sidelines of a conference here.
Refuting charges that Chawla was close to Congress, Tewari said "he was never a member of Congress... He joined the Election Commission after retiring from the IAS".
At the same time, Tewari defended Chawla saying the entire BJP petition against him pertained to certain trusts for which he had applied for permission in October-November 1995.
"At that time, the permission was refused by the Congress government. The permission to set up the trust was given by the H D Devegowda government when Congress had very strained relations with it," he said.
The spokesman said the permission to take funds to the trust was given by the NDA government when L K Advani was the Home Minister and Minister for Personnel.
On Gopalaswami, Tewari said he was Secretary, Personnel, when Chawla's case came up for promotion to Secretary from Additional Secretary and also a member of the panel for promotion and did not object to it.
'Congruence of Actions' Between CEC & BJP: Congress
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