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Top priority for photo rolls: Gopalaswami

Special Correspondent

Commission's credibility has gone up after Assembly elections


  • "Right to recall" a tough exercise
  • Fix ceiling to curb money power

    — Photo: RajeevBhatt

    New Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami (right) with the newly appointed Election Commissioner S. Y. Quraishi (centre) and Naveen Chawla at Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi on Friday.

    New Delhi: N. Gopalaswami, who took over as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) on Friday, said the Election Commission's top priority was to bring out photo rolls for the entire country before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

    Talking to presspersons here, he said the progress of preparation varied from State to State and the Commission would endeavour to hold the next general elections with photo rolls.

    To a question whether its credibility was affected because of the faulty procedure in the appointment of Election Commissioners, he said: "I do not think the credibility of the Commission as such is questioned. The credibility of the appointment of a particular person would have been questioned."

    The Commission's credibility went up after the Assembly polls in Bihar and the recent elections in five States.

    Endorses Tandon's suggestion

    Mr. Gopalaswami said he endorsed his predecessor B.B. Tandon's view favouring the setting up of a mechanism for selection of the CEC and other Commissioners more transparently, on the lines of appointments of members of the National Human Rights Commission and the Central Vigilance Commission.

    Asked whether the right to recall elected representatives would be part of electoral reforms, he said it was a difficult exercise. The Commission already suggested that voters could exercise "none of the above" option if they did not want to vote for any of the candidates.

    The CEC said the ceiling on expenditure by political parties should be fixed to curb money power in elections.

    Mr. Gopalaswami recognised the contributions made by Mr. Tandon and other previous CECs for making the Commission a truly independent, vibrant and highly respected institution. He said he would strive to continue the good work and live up to the expectations of voters and other stakeholders who valued this institution as a neutral umpire.

    Mr. Gopalaswami will retire in April 2009.

    S.Y. Quraishi, who also assumed charge as Election Commissioner, said he would try his best to uphold the dignity of this institution and fulfil his responsibilities with total integrity.

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