Ashok Lavasa to quit Election Commission, appointed ADB vice president
Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, who was next in the line to head the poll panel, has been appointed as vice president for Private Sector Operations and Public-Private Partnerships at the Asian Development Bank. The surprise announcement was made by the regional development bank on Wednesday.
Lavasa would be only the second election commissioner to step down from the poll panel before completion of his term. The last time an election commissioner put in his papers was in 1973 when chief election commissioner Nagendra Singh was appointed a judge in the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
The ADB statement said Lavasa succeeds Diwakar Gupta whose term ends on August 31.
Lavasa, a retired IAS officer, was appointed as election commissioner in January 2018 and would be in line to be appointed as the chief election commissioner when Sunil Arora completes his term if the government sticks to the tradition of appointing the senior-most commissioner to the top post. There is, however, no rule that requires the President to stick to this convention.
The retired 1980 batch IAS officer did not agree with the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) decisions to clear Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then BJP president Amit Shah of charges of violating Model Code of Conduct (MCC) during the 2019 general elections.
Lavasa later told Hindustan Times that he had no axe to grind. “My concern is to have a system of disposal of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) violation cases in a time bound, transparent, and non-discriminatory manner,” Lavasa told HT in an interview.
The rift within the three-member commission had come into the open after reports emerged that Lavasa recused himself from meetings to discuss MCC issues unless his dissent was recorded.
The spotlight remained on the election commissioner later when the income tax department issued notices to his wife Novel Singhal Lavasa for alleged tax evasion.
Prior to his appointment as election commissioner, Lavasa played a critical role in running of several ministries at varying points of time in his career. Among other highlights, he was also held the union finance secretary job.
Lavasa has an MBA degree from Southern Cross University in Australia, and MPhil in Defense and Strategic Studies degree from the University of Madras. He completed his Bachelor of Arts Degree with English Honors and a Master of Arts in English Literature from Delhi University.