Madhya Pradesh Cadre IAS officer Om Prakash Rawat took over as the 22nd Chief Election Commissioner on Tuesday. Rawat succeeds Achal Kumar Joti who remitted office on Monday.
A former joint secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Rawat was appointed Election Commissioner in August 2015. Former finance secretary Ashok Lavasa and Sunil Arora are the two other election commissioners in the three member poll body.
In an exclusive interview to Rajya Sabha TV’s Navvikram Singh, the new CEC spoke about carrying forward the tradition of free and fair elections.
“My main priority is to take forward the rich tradition of free and fair elections,” Rawat said after assuming office.
General elections are due next year and the Election Commission will begin work to ensure smooth and efficient elections, Rawat added.
Referring to the recent allegations of by political parties on the election watchdog, Rawat said he was unfazed and called it propaganda by political parties to justify their election loss.
Rawat will be CEC until December 2, 2018. During his tenure, Rawat will oversee eight Assembly elections beginning with Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya in February, followed by Karnataka in April-May and finally Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram later this year.
In May 1994, Rawat was a United Nations election observer in South Africa overseeing the first post-apartheid elections.