Senior BJP leader LK Advani on Sunday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to set up a "broad-based collegium" to appoint the chief election commissioner (CEC) and the comptroller and auditor general (CAG).
The Congress, however, described it as an attempt to divert the public’s attention from the party’s internal problems.
In a letter to the PM, Advani said that he favoured a collegium with the Prime Minister as the chairman, and the Chief Justice of India, Law and Justice Minister, and leaders of the Opposition from both houses of Parliament as members.Advani said, "There is a rapidly-growing opinion in the country that appointments to constitutional bodies such as the EC should be done on a bipartisan basis. The present system, whereby members to the EC are appointed by the President solely on the advice of the Prime Minister, does not evoke the people’s confidence."
This comes ahead of the end of CEC SY Qureshi’s term, which will happen on July 10, and CAG Vinod Rai's term next January. Advani said that keeping these decisions as the exclusive preserve of the ruling party renders the selection process vulnerable to "manipulation and partisanship".
“Indeed, the credibility of this system was severely dented when a dubious appointment to the crucial office of CEC was made a few years ago. The time has, therefore, come to reform the selection process for the EC and other constitutional bodies...” the BJP leader said.
“The phrasing of Article 324 (2) shows that this would not need any constitutional amendment, and can be done by an ordinary enactment,” he added.
The Congress, however, rejected the demand. "There is nothing wrong with the process of selecting the CEC and CAG. This is an attempt to divert attention from his blog," minister of state for parliamentary affairs Harish Rawat said.