Gujarat governor Kamla Beniwal’s decision to appoint a retired judge of the Gujarat high court as lokayukta of the state, without taking chief minister Narendra Modi into confidence, snowballed into a major confrontation between the BJP and the Congress.
The BJP paralysed both Houses of Parliament on Tuesday and agitated outside as well, seeking recall of the governor and warning the UPA government of non-cooperation.
The Congress debunked the BJP's charge that Modi was bypassed in the appointment of retired justice RA Mehta as the state's anti-corruption ombudsman by saying there was no role for the CM in the process under the Gujarat Lokayukta Act.
It also said that when the Modi government had moved the HC, seeking quashing of the governor's order, the BJP was disrupting Parliament instead of waiting for a judicial verdict.
Senior BJP leader LK Advani led the party in the Lok Sabha in expressing the party's anger at the “undemocratic” appointment of the lokayukta.
In the Rajya Sabha, leader of the opposition Arun Jaitley said, “This constitutional crisis has been created at the behest of those in power in Delhi. This governor should not stay in office even for a minute.”
Advani said the Constitution provides that the governor act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers. “But this was violated in the case of Gujarat.”
Advani said his party would approach the President on September 3 to seek recall of the governor.
Jaitley said, “The person who has been appointed as lokayukta has attended quasi-political rallies. How can reports of such a person be trustworthy?”
Jaitley said the governor did not give the recommendation on the appointment of the lokayukta for more than two years after the state government forwarded the name of a judge for the post in 2009. Later, law minister Salman Khurshid said, “The Act, as I understand, says the governor will consult the chief justice of the high court. You can't read things into it.”
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi accused the BJP of obfuscating facts, misleading people and showing hypocrisy, duplicity and irresponsibility to shield Modi's “corrupt deeds”.
Singhvi said the state government has been appointing lokayuktas from 1986 to 2003 only on the basis of one or two names suggested by the chief justice of the high court. “The BJP talks about a lokpal in Delhi but thwarts it in Gujarat and then obstructs Parliament,” he said.