Gujarat government shielding tainted minister: Congress

February 6th, 2009 - 5:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyAhmedabad, Feb 6 (IANS) The Congress party in Gujarat Friday charged the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of shielding minister Mayaben Kodnani, who has been accused of inciting mobs in the Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya areas during the 2002 riots, and said she was “facilitated” by the chief minister and the party to go into hiding.Opposition leader Shaktisinh Gohil told IANS that the Kodnani incident was “unprecedented” as it was for the first time that a minister has been declared “absconder”.

After the Special Investigation Team (SIT) began mounting pressure on Kodnani, she went into hiding. She did not appear before the SIT on Jan 29 and 30, and then applied for anticipatory bail. On Thursday, a city court granted her bail.

Gohil said Kodnani should have resigned first before seeking anticipatory bail. “The chief minister is morally responsible and should have forced her to resign. Instead she was facilitated by the chief minister and state BJP to go into hiding to secure the bail,” he said. The tainted minister was under “BJP patronage”, Gohil charged.

However, Health Minister and government spokesperson Jaynarayan Vyas said the sessions court’s decision of granting her bail has “vindicated” the BJP’s stand.

“Mayaben had genuine apprehensions and like any other citizen had the right to approach the court. She is a citizen first before she is a minister,” Vyas said.

Coming hard on opposition leader Shaktisinh Gohil’s statement that Education Minister Kodnani should have resigned when the SIT issued summons, Vyas said that the Congress still has persons like Lalu Prasad in the union cabinet who is accused in the Rs.900-crore (Rs.9 billion) fodder scam. “How is it okay for Lalu to be in the cabinet and not Mayaben? How many yardsticks does the Congress have on morality,” Vyas wanted to know.

On Gujarat Congress chief spokesperson Arjun Modhwadia’s charge that the minister was an “absconder” with an arrest warrant against her, Vyas said firmly: “No arrest warrant is pending against her nor is she an absconder”.

“Mayaben is only an accused and she is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Yet, the Congress is going to town telling lies. It follows an ostrich-like moral philosophy and has no compunction in running its opponents down,” Vyas said.

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