Elections are "of ultimate importance" for the country and the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament - which had to be shifted out of India due to a clash of schedules - "stands nowhere", says Election Commissioner S Y Qureshi.
"For India, elections are of ultimate importance and IPL stands nowhere. It's not that we're anti-IPL; we too have a keen interest in cricket matches and do check scores in-between work," Qureshi told the Zee news channel in an interview to be telecast Saturday.
The second edition of the IPL, beginning April 18, will be played in South Africa, since necessary security personnel could not be deployed for it as they would be busy with the April-May election duty.
However, Qureshi said there should be less dependence on forces for conducting elections. "We should use it only as per the requirement and without compromising the nation's security," he said.
Replying to a query, Qureshi said there were no major disputes among the three members of the Election Commission.
The poll panel was gripped by controversy after Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami wrote to the president to remove Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, accusing him of partiality. The government rejected the recommendation.
"There are no major disputes amongst us. We agree on 95 percent of the topics and disagree on the remainder, which indicates that democracy exists even inside the Election Commission!" he said.
Asked to comment on the action against Varun Gandhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee for the Pilibhit seat, for his hate speeches, Qureshi said: "I will not say anything but there's a lot to say. People are saying that you did a good job with Varun Gandhi.
"Yes, the office of the Election Commission is a toothless tiger because we can't comment on criminal politicians," he added.