Election Commissioner Arun Goel Resigns Ahead of Lok Sabha Polls

In a surprising turn of events, Election Commissioner Arun Goel tendered his resignation on March 9, 2024, just days before the anticipated announcement of the Lok Sabha election schedule. The sudden departure has raised questions about the functioning of the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the reasons behind Goel’s decision.

His tenure was till December 5, 2027, and he would have become Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) after incumbent Rajiv Kumar retired in February next year.

Resignation Accepted by President

President Droupadi Murmu officially accepted Arun Goel’s resignation with immediate effect, as per a notification issued by the Law Ministry. Goel, a retired 1985-batch IAS officer of the Punjab cadre, had joined the Election Commission in November 2022.

Reasons Behind the Resignation

While Goel cited “personal reasons” for his resignation, some sources have pointed out apparent differences that emerged between Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar and Goel during their recent visit to West Bengal to oversee preparations for the parliamentary elections. Reportedly, Goel refused to attend a press conference in Kolkata alongside Kumar on March 5, after differing with the CEC on certain matters.

Impact on Election Commission

With Goel’s departure and with the retirement of Anup Chandra Pandey in February, the three-member Election Commission is now reduced to only one member, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar. This development has cast doubts on the previously anticipated timeline for announcing the Lok Sabha election dates, which were expected to be revealed in the coming week.

Under the new law governing the appointment of Chief Election Commissioners and Election Commissioners, a search committee led by the law minister and comprising two union secretaries will compile a list of five candidates.

Appointment Process for New Election Commissioners

The appointment of new Election Commissioners involves a two-step process:

  1. A search committee, headed by the Law Minister and including two Union Secretaries, shortlists five names for the position.
  2. A selection committee, chaired by the Prime Minister and comprising a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the PM, along with the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha or the leader of the single-largest opposition party, selects the final candidate.

The chosen candidate is then formally appointed by the President.

About Arun Goel

Born on December 7, 1962, in Patiala, Goel is an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the 1985 batch, Punjab cadre. He superannuated as Secretary, Ministry of Heavy Industry, Government of India, after more than 37 years of service. Goel is a post-graduate in Development Economics from Churchill College, University of Cambridge, England. He has also been trained at the John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA.


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