In Gujarat, a new battle between governor and Narendra Modi

In Gujarat, a new battle between governor and Narendra Modi

File photo of Narendra Modi.

Ahmedabad: Narendra Modi and Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal are on collision course again after the latter returned the controversial Gujarat Lokayukta Commission Bill 2013 yesterday, despite the state assembly passing it with a clear majority earlier this year.

Ms Beniwal's objection was expected since the bill proposes to give all powers to appoint the state Lokayukta or ombudsman to a committee headed by the Chief Minister, virtually eliminating the governor as well as the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court from the process. (Read letter)

Sources said the state government may resubmit the bill to the Governor in the assembly session that starts on September 30. The Governor will have to give her assent if the bill is sent again.

The state assembly had passed the bill after the Modi government lost a two-year long legal battle in the Supreme Court over the appointment of retired judge Justice R A Mehta as Lokayukta by the Governor. She had made that appointment without consulting the state cabinet, much to Mr Modi's chagrin.

Even after he lost his battle first in the Gujarat High Court and later in the Supreme Court, Mr Modi made no notification towards the appointment of the state Lokayukta.

Last month, Mr Mehta resigned, severely criticising the Gujarat Chief Minister.

Amid public spats, Mr Modi has repeatedly demanded that Governor Beniwal be recalled.
Gujarat has not had a functioning Lokayukta for years. The position was vacant for eight years till Justice Mehta's appointment was announced in 2011.  

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