Sunil Arora has taken over as Chief Election Commissioner of India in a crucial time when EC is saddled with allegations against EVMs and other regulatory oversights.
The next Lok Sabha elections will be held under supervision. Apart from that, there are state elections slated in Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha, Maharashtra, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Arora replaced OP Rawat, who retired on Saturday.
Generally, CEC has tenure of six years or till the person is 65 years old, whichever is earlier. Arora has been part of Election Commission since August 31 last year, and as convention being the senior most member of the panel has become Chief Election Commission.
After taking charge, Arora said, “The Election Commission of India (ECI) has begun preparations for the coming Lok Sabha elections next year, which we are committed to conducting in a free and fair manner”.He further said, “Our first and foremost priority is to give the country fair, credible, free, impartial and ethical elections”.
Regarding EVMs and VVPATs Arora said,” For the Lok Sabha elections, we are making meticulous planning on all fronts including electronic voting machines (EVMs) and the voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT). We will go for massive dissemination activities about elections and creating awareness among voters through our highly credible ‘Sweep’programme”.
A 1980-batch IAS officer of the Rajasthan cadre, Arora has worked in ministries such as finance, textiles and the Planning Commission.He also served as joint secretary in the Ministry of Civil Aviation during 1999-2002 and the CMD, Indian Airlines, for five years — two years as additional charge and three years as full charge.
In Rajasthan, besides district postings in Dholpur, Alwar, Nagaur and Jodhpur, he was secretary to the chief minister during 1993-1998 and principal secretary to CM (2005-2008), besides handling information and public relations (IPR), Industries and Investment Departments.
Arora certainly has his task cut out especially with Election Commission taking the ambitious plan of using VVPATs with all EVMs in the next general elections.