Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh is expected to move the high court this week against State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nand Lal’s notice asking him to pay for his last month’s air-travel to rural Maharashtra where he attended two functions when the model code of conduct was in force.
The notice said that Deshmukh’s tour was politically motivated and that he should pay up by February 2. The chief minister refuted the charge that he had used the government machinery for political purpose. He also asked SEC for some clarifications.
Deshmukh explained to Lal that he used the government aircraft to attend a state function and not to address an election rally. When asked if the chief minister has paid up, Nand Lal refused to disclose any information to HT. "Why are you asking me? Please ask this to the CM," he snapped.
Lal had accused Deshmkh of trying to influence the functioning of the commission as well. He gave the recent delimitation exercise for assembly and parliamentary seats as a case in point. Along with Deshmukh, Lal named Congress ministers Balasaheb Thorat and Patangrao Kadam as those who tried to mediate on behalf of Deshmukh on the issue of delimitation of the Latur Lok Sabha constituency.
"Now the CM is in the process of filing an appeal in the high court," said a senior official attached to the CM’s office. "The advocate general is being briefed. The petition will be filed this week."
Lal and Deshmukh have rarely been on good terms. The differences between them intensified last month after the Election Commission announced the zilla parishad polls. The state government challenged the SEC’s decision before the high court, which stalled the process. At same time, Lal suffered a set back in the Supreme Court when it asked him to approach Aurangabad high court bench to seek relief in this poll-related case.