New CEC Rajiv Kumar to oversee Assembly polls including in J&K and 2024 elections

Chief election commissioner-designate Rajiv Kumar, who is set to take over from Sushil Chandra on May 15, will oversee the upcoming Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Jammu and Kashmir as well as the 2024 general elections.

The Ministry of Law and Justice announced on Thursday that Kumar, now an election commissioner, will take over as chief election commissioner (CEC) on May 15. The 24th CEC, Chandra is due to retire on May 14.

Kumar’s CEC tenure begins right after the delimitation commission finalised its order for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, recommending seven additional constituencies — six for Jammu and one for Kashmir — and taking the total number of seats in the UT to 90. It also comes at a time when the poll panel’s decisions have drawn criticism from mainstream parties in the Valley. It will also pave the way for elections to be held in the Union Territory that has been without an elected government since 2018, when the Centre abrogated the erstwhile state’s special status.

His tenure as an election commissioner has seen a slew of reforms, including multiple dates for voter registration and the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which called for voluntary linking of Aadhaar numbers with voter cards. During Kumar’s tenure, the commission also began working on the concept of remote voting.

A 1984-batch Indian Administrative Service officer of the Bihar/Jharkhand cadre, Kumar superannuated from the IAS in February 2020. He who took over as an election commissioner on September 1 2020, after helming the Public Enterprises Selection Board for five months since April 2020.

Born on February,19, 1960 Kumar acquired a slew of academic degrees including a B Sc, LLB, PGDM and an MA in Public Policy, and has over 37 years of experience working for the government across ministries at the Centre and the social, environmental, human resources, finance and the banking sectors in states.

Kumar has also been director of the central boards of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), SBI and Nabard and a member of the Economic Intelligence Council, Financial Stability and Development Council, Bank Board Bureau, Financial Sector Regulatory Appointments Search Committee and the Civil Services Board, among many other boards and committees.

Kumar has been credited with conceiving and implementing merger and acquisitions in the financial sector. He also has to his credit the streamlining of the National Pension System by enhancing the mandatory contribution of the central government, and providing freedom of choice in pension funds and patterns of investment and tax reliefs.

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