The first instance of dissent within the Election Commission - and the poll panel's alleged attempts to cover it up - flared up 10 days ago, over an order pertaining to a Rajasthan BJP leader, NDTV has found. As NDTV earlier reported, the same Commissioner dissented with the Commission over clean chits to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah on five occasions. In all five instances, the Commission has chosen not to pass an order, thereby pre-empting the opportunity for dissent to be recorded.
On April 24, the commission had passed an order censuring Gulab Chand Kataria, the BJP's leader of opposition in Rajasthan, for making communal remarks.
In his speech, delivered on April 13 in Udaipur, Mr Kataria said, "Partition was based on population. At the time of partition, Hindustan had 9 per cent of Muslim population which has risen to 19 per cent. In Pakistan, there were 12 per cent Hindus but now reduced to mere 2 per cent. Because, Muslims have 12 kids and Hindus have just two. At this rate, another division may happen".
The EC order, while censuring him, warned Mr Kataria that if he was to repeat such language, he would face stricter action under the Model Code of Conduct.
But NDTV has learnt that one of the Election Commissioners had sought stronger action against him, asking that Mr Kataria not only be reprimanded, but also that an FIR be filed against him, and he be barred from campaigning for 72 hours.
This view, however, was not mentioned in the EC's formal order - a break from the poll panel's practise - where dissent is meant to be recorded.
When the dissenting officer wrote to the Chief Election Commissioner asking for an explanation, he received no reply, NDTV has learnt.
Yesterday, a high-ranking source in the Election Commission told NDTV that on five occasions, one of the three commissioners had dissented with the majority view to let PM Modi and Amit Shah off the hook for their comments, which the Congress alleged were violations of the Model Code of Conduct.
The Commission comprises Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and the two election commissioners - Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra. The poll panel's rules express preference for a unanimous view, but provide for a majority ruling in the absence of unanimity.