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Law panel reports favour ‘one nation one election’


Sunil Arora, a 1980 batch IAS officer, has been part of Rajasthan government twice. Once as secretary to chief minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and then as principal secretary to chief minister Vasundhara Raje. The joke in Rajasthan during his first stint as secretary to CM was that Bhairon Singh won the election but Sunil Arora ran the government.

Arora later served as secretary to the ministries of skill development and I&B. After retirement, Arora joined the Election Commission as an election commissioner. He retired from the EC as the Chief Election Commissioner in 2021. Excerpts:

Santwana Bhattacharya: Please share your experience on the current status of the Election Commission of India.

I have a lot of respect for all officials down to the district level because they work so hard in the face of criticism. The technical committee of the Chief Election Commissioner of India is not appointed by the current commission. It is a 15-year-old body consisting of senior technocrats who have been in leadership positions at IIT and other reputed institutions. They don’t charge from the commission.

Either the EVM was wrong for the first time or for the second time. I can look into the eyes of everybody as ECI on or off record. EVMs cannot be hacked.

Everybody speaks about EVMs. If a section of parties tells the EC to introduce or make it mandatory to have VVPATs along with EVMs, why will the EC oppose or not give the political parties the time for discussion to make it mandatory?

Suchitra Mohanty: What would you say about Centre’s stand in the Supreme Court on the appointment of two new election commissioners under a 2023 law that excludes the Chief Justice of India from the selection committee?

If a judge is on a panel, it does not mean the panel would be absolutely impartial or unbiased. For instance, Harish Salve, former solicitor general, recently commented that there was hardly any country where judges appoint judges.Secondly, who am I as a citizen to comment on the Chief Justice of India?

But I’d say that we don’t have to be judgmental in every decision.

Rajesh Kumar Thakur: Do you think ‘one nation one poll’ for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies feasible?

I have said state and parliamentary elections should be conducted together. And it’s a decade-old issue; there are multiple reports of the Law Commission and all of them support simultaneous elections. From 1952 to 1967, elections were held together. From 1967 onwards, political instability had an effect across the country in terms of dismissal of state governments which necessitated polls.

Santwana Bhattacharya: But if a government falls, what happens then?

For the first time in India, the Kerala government had fallen in 1958, what did they do? It was a duly elected government and everybody knows the reasons were not administrative.

Shahid Faridi: What is the best way to bring electoral transparency especially after the controversy over electoral bonds?

It was the ECI’s collective view that the system should be more transparent. Finally, the Supreme Court gave a detailed judgment. However, modalities have to be spelled out in detail.

Preetha Nair: The ECI in 2018 opposed the electoral bond scheme…

We were against the stipulation that the identity of donors should be kept separate. We said companies that are not making profits being allowed to donate was not a good idea.