M A I N   N E W S

BJP double speak on ombudsman
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, September 2
There is a clear contradiction in the stand taken by the BJP on the selection process of the Lokpal at the Centre and the Lokayukta in Gujarat.

Pointing out various shortcomings in the government's Lokpal Bill, the BJP had expressed serious misgivings about the dominance of government representatives on the selection committee which is to recommend names for the ombudsman's post. This was one of the main objections which the BJP speakers raised during last week's debate on the Lokpal Bill in Parliament.

But the BJP is silent on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's attempts to amend the Lokayukta Act in the state, giving the government greater say in the appointment of the ombudsman.

The Modi government had sent an ordinance to Gujarat governor Kamal Beniwal on August 18 proposing the constitution of a committee which would empower the Chief Minister to recommend the Lokayukta's name. In fact, the selection process suggested by Modi is much on the lines provided for in the official Lokpal Bill at the Centre.

Beniwal refused to give her assent to the ordinance and instead went ahead with the appointment of a Lokayukta which has sparked off a fierce confrontation between the BJP and the Congress with the saffron party disrupting Parliament and petitioning President Pratibha Patil for the Governor's removal.

According to the ordinance, the government suggested that the selection committee for the appointment of the Lokayukta should be headed by the CM and comprises the leader of opposition and a private member from among the citizens.

The present Lokayukta Act do not give the Chief Minister or the state government any direct role in the selection of the ombudsman.

Instead, sub-section one of the Act lays down that the Governor has the powers to appoint a Lokayukta after consultations with the Chief Justice of the High Court and the leader of opposition.

While Modi wants to have a say in the appointment of a Lokayukta, the BJP leadership in Delhi has slammed the official Lokpal Bill for giving excessive representation to government nominees on the selection panel. Hitting out at the government during last week's debate, Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, had pushed for greater balance with inclusion of both government and non-government members. 





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