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HomeIndiaElection Commissioner Arun Goel Resigns Weeks Before Lok Sabha Polls

Election Commissioner Arun Goel Resigns Weeks Before Lok Sabha Polls

Officials said the government tried to persuade Mr Goel not to quit, but he insisted

New Delhi:

In a shock move weeks before the Lok Sabha polls, Election Commissioner Arun Goel has quit and his resignation has been accepted by the President. The three-member Election Commission of India already had a vacancy and will now be left only with Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar. 

Sources had told NDTV earlier on Saturday that the Lok Sabha election dates are likely to be announced next week, and Mr Goel’s resignation has now put a question mark on that timeline. 

Top officials said Mr Goel cited personal reasons while resigning, adding that the government tried to persuade him not to quit, but he insisted. On speculation that health was a cause for the resignation, they said Mr Goel is in perfect health. “The government will start the process of appointing other election commissioners,” said an official. 

Mr Goel, a 1985-batch IAS officer had taken voluntary retirement on November 18, 2022, and was appointed Election Commissioner a day later. His appointment had been challenged in the Supreme Court, which had asked the government what the “tearing hurry” was. 

“Minister of Law picks up four names from the list of names shortlisted… The file was put up on November 18; moves the same day. Even PM recommends the name on the same day. We don’t want any confrontation, but was this done in any haste? What’s the tearing hurry,” the court had asked. 

The petition was later dismissed by a two-judge bench last year, which noted that a Constitution Bench had examined the issue but had refused to cancel Mr Goel’s appointment. 

Mr Goel’s tenure was till 2027 and he was in line to replace Rajiv Kumar as the Chief Election Commissioner after the latter’s retirement next year.

‘Very Concerning’

Even before Mr Goel’s resignation, there were concerns that the Lok Sabha polls were being held with only him and Rajiv Kumar in the core body of the Election Commission of India instead of a three-member panel. The other Election Commissioner, Anup Pandey, had retired last month. 

Trinamool Congress leader Saket Gokhale has termed Mr Goel’s resignation “very very concerning” and pointed out that the panel to pick Election Commissioners now consists of the Prime Minister, a Union Cabinet minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

“In a sudden move, Election Commissioner Arun Goel has abruptly resigned. The post of the other EC is vacant… Modi Govt has introduced a new law where Election Commissioners will now be appointed with a majority vote of PM Modi & 1 Minister chosen by him. Ergo, before 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Modi will now appoint 2 out of the 3 Election Commissioners after today’s resignation,” he posted on X.

Congress leader KC Venugopal also called the resignation deeply concerning and claimed that “there is absolutely no transparency” in how the Election Commission has been functioning. 

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