NEW DELHI: Demanding a probe into charges made by Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, the Congress on Saturday alleged that eroding institutional integrity has been the hallmark of the Modi government and asked whether the poll panel has become "Election Omission" and a "puppet" in the PM's hands.
Lavasa is learnt to have written to the Chief Election Commissioner that he will be recusing from EC meetings as his dissent was not being recorded on clearances given by the poll panel to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over alleged poll code violations.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked whether the EC will save itself more embarrassment by recording Lavasa's dissent notes, as he accused PM Modi of "muzzling" democratic institutions.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said there must be a credible investigation into the issues raised by Lavasa, alleging the sanctity of the electoral process and the institutional integrity of the Election Commission is in jeopardy.
"There must be a thorough credible enquiry into the issues raised by Mr Lavasa and restoration of the Commission's independent status as the watchdog of world's largest democracy. Mr Lavasa's letter - contents of which have appeared in the media - is extremely serious."
"The sanctity of the electoral process and the institutional integrity of the Election Commission of India is in jeopardy," said Patel on Twitter.
Another senior party leader, P Chidambaram, said the EC has been "captured" by the Modi government.
In a series of tweets, he said, "Mr Ashok Lavasa, EC, complained that his 'dissent' was not being recorded and hence decided to stay away from meetings of the Commission. The CEC has replied that silence is eloquent. I am still trying to find the connection between the complaint and the answer! "CEC tells the people that some matters are best kept 'internal'.
Is he saying that the people -- the voters -- should not know or be concerned about the manner in which the Commission is conducting its business? "There is no need for any more proof that another independent institution has been captured by the Modi sarkar."
In a statement, Surjewala said, "Election Commission has become 'Election Omission'.
Shri Ashok Lavasa, one of the three members of the Central Election Commission (CEC), who dissented on multiple occasions when the Election Commission was busy giving clean chits to Modi-Shah duo opts out of EC meetings as the ECI even refused to record his dissent notes.
"This is a day-light murder of Constitutional norms, set conventions and propriety. The poll panel's rules express a preference for a unanimous view but provide for a majority ruling in the absence of unanimity. Being a Constitutional body, the minority view has to be recorded, but this is being trampled to protect Modi-Shah duo."
He alleged that Lavasa's minority decisions going unrecorded "speaks volumes about the political pressure being exerted by the Modi Government on the EC".
"Omitting the dissent of Election Commissioner, simply because he had asked for a notice to be issued to the PM Modi, has severely tarnished the institutional integrity of the Election Commission," he said.
Surjewala alleged that Modi has "taken upon himself the task of denigrating, damaging, decimating, dislodging and diminishing, the sanctity of every institution of India".
"PM Modi demolished the integrity of India's premier investigation agency. CBI in a midnight coup to save himself from any scrutiny in the Rafale Scam."
"Modi Government used CVC as the 'Colossal Veil to Cover Corruption' to publish a fallacious report, based on which an incumbent CBI Director was illegally removed."
"The nation has to count only 5 more days to overthrow the 5 years of Mal-Governance of Modi Government," he said.