Lavasa named ADB vice-president, to quit poll panel

Ashok Lavasa named ADB vice-president, to quit poll panel

Ashok Lavasa addresses a press conference ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, in Chennai, Thursday, April 04, 2019. Credit: PTI Photo

Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa is set to leave the poll panel to join the Asian Development Bank (ADB), more than a year after he had a run-in with Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora during the Lok Sabha polls over enforcing the Model Code Conduct. 

Lavasa will succeed Diwakar Gupta who will on August 31 next complete a five-year-term as the ADB vice-president for Private Sector Operations and Public-Private Partnerships,  as ADB vice-president. The ADB has its headquarters in Manila in the Philippines.

Lavasa would have succeeded Arora as the Chief Election Commissioner in April 2021 and would have continued till October 2022. His exit well before the end of his term would place his colleague Sushil Chanda next in the line of succession to head the three-member-commission after Arora's retirement.

 Lavasa's disagreement with Arora and Chandra on the issue of the implementation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) during the parliamentary polls last year had come to the public domain. He had written a letter to Arora protesting that his dissenting minority views were not being recorded in the decisions taken by the EC on notices or orders issued by it in the cases related to the alleged flouting of the poll-code, particularly on giving clean chits to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the then president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Amit Shah, who later took over as Union Home Minister.

 The BJP-led government had last year launched a probe against Lavasa, asking 11 PSUs to verify if he had exercised “undue influence” during his tenure at the Ministry of Power.   

Lavasa, who joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1980, retired as Finance Secretary in October 2017. He had earlier served as Secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, and at the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

 He led the delegation of the Government of India in the climate change negotiations for the Paris Agreement and was instrumental in finalizing India’s nationally determined contributions, which included a major role of the private sector, the ADB stated on Wednesday.

“At both policy and project levels, he made significant contributions to the inclusion of the private sector in many development programs in India for different sectors such as energy, agriculture, finance, and infrastructure.”

As Joint Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs of the Government of India, he had worked closely with many ADB projects that had private sector components, a spokesperson of the regional development bank said.

He is going to be the second Election Commissioner to leave the poll panel before the end of his term. Nagender Singh had in 1973 resigned as Chief Election Commissioner before completing his term after being appointed as a judge of the International Court of Justice.