Page last updated at 09:23 GMT, Monday, 2 February 2009

India poll chief row intensifies

India's Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami
Mr Gopalaswami has reportedly complained against a colleague

India's law minister has criticised the head of the election commission for behaving like a "political boss".

Minister Hans Raj Bharadwaj's comments came after election chief N Gopalaswami accused his colleague Navin Chawla of "bias" and recommended his removal.

Mr Bharadwaj advised Mr Gopalaswami to "prepare electoral rolls and not to settle scores".

The spat has created a controversy with general elections due in India in a few months' time.

Analysts say the ongoing row is a serious development as India's highest election body has been conducting elections successfully and has been considered non-partisan in its conduct.

"Gopalaswami should do his work in EC (election commission) and not become a political boss," Mr Bharadwaj told reporters in the capital, Delhi.

Mr Gopalaswami has defended his position, saying he was within his constitutional right to seek Mr Chawla's removal.

"In my mind, I am right," the Press Trust of India news agency quoted him as saying.


Reports say Mr Gopalaswami has written to the president of India seeking the removal of Mr Chawla, accusing him of "bias".

Over a year ago, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) lodged a complaint with Mr Gopalaswami seeking Mr Chawla's removal.

Senior BJP leaders have accused Mr Chawla of being biased towards the governing Congress party.

Mr Chawla denies the charge and has refused to quit.

The Congress has also denied the allegation against Mr Chawla, and criticised the opposition BJP for an "irresponsible and short-sighted assault" on the election commission.

"It is contrary to established law, hypocritical and duplicitous in terms of sequence and timing and totally distorts context and background," Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.

General elections are due in India in April-May.

India's election commission is a three-member organisation and is headed by the chief election commissioner.

Mr Gopalaswami's term as the commission's head ends on 20 April.

Print Sponsor

Why India's state elections matter
08 Dec 08 |  South Asia
Indian state votes amid violence
14 Nov 08 |  South Asia
India state elections announced
14 Oct 08 |  South Asia
India bans exit polls during vote
09 Oct 08 |  South Asia
New opposition alliance in India
23 Jul 08 |  South Asia
India communists wary of election
31 Oct 07 |  South Asia
India MPs hold vote of confidence
22 Jul 08 |  South Asia

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific