Hours after he took over as the new Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India on Tuesday, Om Prakash Rawat said that there is "no weakness" in Election Commission's decision on disqualifying 20 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lawmakers in office of profit case.
On the other hand, Lavasa, a 1980-batch IAS officer of the Haryana cadre, will fill the sole vacancy in the three-member ECI created with Rawat's appointment. He took the charge as new CEC in Delhi today.
Mr. Rawat has a post graduate degree in Social Development Planning from the United Kingdom, completed in 1989, and has been a recipient of the Madhya Pradesh Award for recognition of forest rights in 2009. During his tenure as the Election Commissioners of India, Rawat has monitored assembly elections in fourteen Indian states including Assam, Bihar, Kerala, Puducherry, and Tamil Nadu. He was the retired IAS officer of the 1977 batch belonging to the Madhya Pradesh cadre.
Besides, Rawat will also have the opportunity to oversee elections to 58 Rajya Sabha seats.
On being asked whether simultaneous polls could be held as early as in 2019, Mr Rawat said he was the wrong person to answer this.
Sunil Arora, presently the second seniormost Election Commissioner, will continue until April 2021. "As CEC, my priority will be to have a continuity of delivering free, fair and credible elections through the engagement of all stakeholders and to build consensus on poll reforms, " he told ET.
Crucial States like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh will also go to the polls under his watch. "The commission will take a view where they are falling short and where some tweaking is needed and will respond accordingly", said Rawat.