Modi government, Congress spar over panel

August 18th, 2011 - 12:19 am ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil Gandhinagar, Aug 17 (IANS) The ruling BJP in Gujarat and the opposition Congress were involved in a tussle of sorts Wednesday in the backdrop of corruption issues rocking the country.

Sensing the national mood, the Gujarat government Wednesday set up an inquiry commission under retired Supreme Court judge M.B. Shah to enquire into the 17-point chargesheeet that the state Congress party submitted to President Pratibha Patil some months ago against it.

The Gujarat Congress hit back within hours, stating that Chief Minister Narendra Modi was obfuscating the issue by appointing a “powerless” commission instead of filling up the post of a Lokayukta lying vacant for over seven years.

According to official spokesperson Jay Narayan Vyas, the decision was taken at the cabinet meeting headed by the chief minister here Wednesday. The state government set up the M.B. Shah panel under the Commission of Inquiry Act-1952. “We seek to bring the truth over the allegations made by the Congress before the people. The state government is committed to a transparent inquiry into whatever allegations have been made,” he said.

The charges handed over to the inquiry panel include those of land given to industries near here at low prices; the Rs.33,000-crore concession deal for the Tata’s Nano car project; land allotment to Adanis for Mundra Port and Mundra SEZ, and allotment of prime land of Navsari Agricultural University to Chhatrala Group of Hotels without auction; and allotment of prime land to Bharat Hotels Limited on the Ahmedabad Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway.

The Commission would further look into the allegations including those of illegal allotment of Coastal Regulation Zone and Forest land and permission for construction given to Essar Group, allegation that huge tract of land has been allotted to a company, in which a BJP leader Venkaiaih Naidu is associated for a Salt Chemicals Facility in Kutch district near Pakistan border among others.

The Commission will complete its inquiry and submit its report to the state government by March 31, 2012, said a statement issued by the state government.

The spokesperson charged the Congress with causing the delay in appointing the Lokayukta.

Leader of the opposition Shaktisinh Gohil repudiated the charge.

“Modi does not appoint a Lokayukta. Instead of this, he has appointed a Commission which has no powers like Lokayukta,” Gohil pointed out. “As per the provisions of Lokayukta Act, Chief Justice of Gujarat has suggested the name of Justice R.A. Mehta for the post of Lokayukta. But Modi is stalling the appointment,” he added.

Gohil said: “It is surprising that Modi who is all praise for Anna Hazare does not appoint the judge who is a confidante of Anna Hazare. In Ahmedabad, Hazare had stayed at the residence of Justice Mehta. Judicial Commissions have no rights. Modi has appointed commission to cover up his shady deals.”

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