NEW DELHI: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has appointed election commissioner Ashok Lavasa as its vice-president on the recommendation of the Indian government.
Lavasa was next in line of succession to become the chief election commissioner of India after incumbent Sunil Arora retires in April 2021 and would have overseen more than half a dozen assembly elections. Lavasa will succeed current vice president at ADB Diwakar Gupta whose tenure ends on 31 August and will look after private sector operations and public private partnerships.
During his tenure at EC last year, Lavasa came under spotlight when he opposed clean chit given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah, now union home minister, on charges of violation of model code of conduct (MCC).
Last year, EC had also rejected the demand made by Lavasa to include dissent notes and minority views in orders involving the model code of conduct (MCC). However, the Commission said status quo will be maintained and all dissent notes or minority views will remain part of the EC’s records.
There were reports of his family members coming under the scanner of Income Tax Department but Lavasa had told Mint in December that his family has fully discharged stamp duty obligation on a property transaction on which the IT department has reportedly flagged “discrepancies”.
The EC is yet to put out a formal statement on Lavasa’s imminent departure. A senior EC official said requesting anonymity that as an election commissioner, developments related to Lavasa would be cleared from the President and Chief Election Commissioner as election commissioners are appointed by the President.
A 1980 batch Haryana cadre IAS officer, Lavasa took over as Election Commissioner of India on 23rd January, 2018. Earlier, he held a range of senior posts in the government including finance secretary, environment secretary, civil aviation secretary among others. EC members have tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. Lavasa was set to turn 65 in October 2022 and thus had more than two years left at EC.
“He has extensive experience in public–private partnerships and infrastructure development at the state and federal levels, with deep knowledge on public policy and the role of private sector,” ADB said in a statement.
Lavasa has an MBA degree from Southern Cross University in Australia, and MPhil in Defense and Strategic Studies degree from the University of Madras. He completed his Bachelor of Arts Degree with English Honors and a Master of Arts in English Literature from Delhi University.