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HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Ahmedabad, October 03, 2012
On the day that the Election Commission announced the schedule for the Gujarat assembly elections and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi launched her party's campaign for the polls from Rajkot, the MB Shah Commission gave a clean chit to the Narendra Modi government on alleged irregularities in allotment of land for industrial projects.

"The commission has submitted its report, which has clarified that no irregularity was committed in allotting lands as alleged," a state government spokesperson said here on Wednesday.

The commission was apparently set up by the Modi administration to preempt a probe by the lokayukta into allegations made by the Congress.

The Congress had demanded the appointment of a lokayukta in the state, alleging that large-scale irregularities committed by the state administration needed to be examined and probed by an independent anti-corruption ombudsman.

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However, instead of appointing a lokayukta, the Modi government floated a commission headed by retired Supreme Court judge MB Shah to probe nine specific allegations regarding allotment of land to some of the country's top industrial houses for a variety of projects.

The terms of reference of the commission included an inquiry into the Congress party's allegations of favouritism towards certain industrial houses, the state government's negligence in this regard, if any; and any other allegations that the panel deemed fit to inquire into.

The Congress had however boycotted the proceedings of the panel, sticking to its demand that a lokayukta be appointed to look into the matter.

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