01 August, 2021

The Man's Straight As An Arrow

The CEC is a man who goes by the letter of the law, thorough with a reputation for probity

The Man's Straight As An Arrow
It is often said of the Indian bureaucracy that only the manipulators, those with politicians on their side, rise to the top. James Michael Lyngdoh is a dazzling exception to that rule. A formidable combination of integrity, intelligence and competence, India's chief election commissioner is one of the few constitutional functionaries with the moral authority and the spine to look the political establishment in the eye and tell it where to get off.

So say his former colleagues in the Indian Administrative Service. His face-off with the central government on the issue of holding elections in Gujarat was seen as being pretty much in character. It was not, after all, the first time Lyngdoh had successfully taken on the ruling dispensation and stuck to his guns. That, from a politico's viewpoint, is the whole trouble: Lyngdoh is a man who goes by the letter of the law, offering no handle to anyone trying to make him change course. He's absolutely immune to influence from any quarter.

With good reason. Back when H.D. Deve Gowda was prime minister, Lyngdoh, then secretary,...

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