Cabinet induction of Goa’s only woman minister in limbo

May 7th, 2012 - 2:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, May 7 (IANS) The suspense over induction of Alina Saldanha, Goa’s only woman minister in the 12-member cabinet, continues with the ball now in the court of the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Goa governor.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has claimed that it is within his constitutional powers to induct Alina, wife of late tourism minister and legislator Matanhy Saldanha, into the cabinet ahead of an impending by-election in Cortalim constituency, which was declared following the sudden death of the Cortalim legislator a few days after he was sworn in as minister.

Parrikar is, however, being dogged by a activist lawyer, Aires Rodrigues, who has now petitioned both the Goa governor’s office and the ECI seeking a halt to the scheduled swearing in of Alina when the election code of conduct is in force.

“The question is whether the Indian Constitution is important or code of conduct, which is not even a legal document. I have a right under Constitution of India to induct her… It is my prerogative. She has to get elected to the Goa legislative assembly within six months,” Parrikar said, defending his decision to induct Alina, even as she is campaigning for the Cortalim seat, which was left vacant after her husband’s death.

Rodrigues, however, claims that Alina’s induction as minister when the code of conduct is in place would disturb the level playing field for the June 2 by-poll.

Rodrigues’ petition to the chief electoral officer (CEO) S. Kumaraswamy last week had forced the latter to write to chief secretary Sanjeev Srivastava and request the government to defer the induction plan.

The activist lawyer has now petitioned both the Election Commission of India as well as newly-appointed Goa Governor B.V. Wanchoo seeking stalling of Alina’s swearing-in Tuesday.

“The induction of Mrs. Alina Saldanha as a cabinet minister would be contrary to the established norms for free and fair elections besides being in violation of the Model Code of Conduct currently in force,” Rodrigues said.

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