President Ram Nath Kovind appointed Rajiv Kumar, the senior-most election commissioner, as the next Chief Election Commissioner here on Thursday. Kumar will assume charge of the office on Sunday, as present CEC Sushil Chandra retires on Saturday. Kumar will retire in February 2025. He will oversee the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and upcoming elections to various assemblies. Kumar is a 1984-batch Indian Administrative Service officer of the Bihar/Jharkhand cadre. He superannuated from service in February 2020. He has also served as secretary, financial services earlier.

Later, addressing Chief Electoral Officers of various States, Kumar said with the mandate provided by the Constitution, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has developed extremely robust internal mechanisms and practices to ensure that elections are conducted in a free, fair, accessible, and participative manner for each and every voter. “With a legacy of the past seven decades, ECI has established exemplary, vibrant, and transparent processes for other democracies,” he said.

He said his experience of conducting elections during the pandemic, has been full of challenges and learning. Kumar said the unprecedented situation demanded dynamic decision making and preemptive measures. He asked the CEOs to carry forward the journey of reforms initiated during the tenure of Chandra to further streamlining the election processes.

Kumar added that while technology has been leveraged in a big way to enhance the accessibility and transparency of the election system, ECI has streamlined the entire IT infrastructure with a focus on three critical stakeholders—voters, political parties, and election management functionaries. He asked CEOs to strengthen their IT systems, including training of the IT personnel to adapt to the latest advancements.