NCP and National Conference question rationale behind appointing a judge in the "dying hours" of the government, Congress says no compromise

The issue of snoopgate inquiry allegedly involving BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi ran into trouble on Sunday with two UPA constituents — NCP and National Conference — opposing the move to appoint a judge in the “dying hours” of the government.

The Congress, however, declared that there was “no compromise” as the issue involved women of the country.

In a setback to the efforts to name a judge before May 16, 2014, the NCP and the National Conference questioned the move.

“When the results of the Lok Sabha elections are due in two weeks’ time, where is the need for such an inquiry?” senior NCP leader and Union Minister Praful Patel told PTI.

Striking a similar note, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said if the decision to appoint could not be taken in December then it was wrong to appoint a judge five months later.

“Was talking to my dad last night and he felt the same way — setting up a commission of inquiry in the dying hours of UPA 2 is just wrong.

“If the decision to appoint a commission was taken in Dec it should have been implemented. To appoint a judge 5 months later is wrong,” Mr. Abdullah tweeted.

Mr. Patel also said that the NCP chief Sharad Pawar has talked to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier in the day to convey the party’s view in the matter. The NCP is the second largest constituent of the Congress-led UPA.

The statements came a day after Law Minister and Congress leader Kapil Sibal insisted that government planned to go ahead with naming a judge for the inquiry before May 16 before the results are out.

It was alleged that illegal surveillance was carried out on a young woman in Gujarat in 2009 at the behest of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his then Minister of State for Home Amit Shah.

Unfazed by the opposition from its two allies, Congress spokesperson and Mahila Congress chief Shoba Oza declared there was “no compromise” on going ahead with the probe as the matter does not involve any political party, but women of the country who constitute half of the population.

Ms. Oza, however, ducked questions whether the opposition by the NCP and the National Conference meant that they were “anti-women”.

She insisted that no political party can decide on it and the Union cabinet has already taken a decision some time back and it was also announced.

“The issue is not a personal business of anyone. How does it matter (that a judge was not appointed so far)? There will be a commission and there will be a judge. Why there should be pressure?” she said.

Ms. Oza also attacked the BJP alleging that leaders like Arun Jaitely were “trying to threaten” judges against taking up the enquiry. The idea was floated by them that Congress was not getting judges.

She also alleged that in order to silence the family of the young architect girl, it was awarded contracts without floating tenders.

The party also came out with 10 questions to the BJP including Mr. Modi, Mr. Shah and Mr. Jaitley on snoopgate controversy, asking them to “come clean” on the illegal surveillance of a young woman allegedly at the instance of the Gujarat Chief Minister.

“Why did Modi as also Pranlal Soni, father of the girl, not disclose the fact that Modi knew the young architect girl for close to five years, since 2005 prior to mounting of surveillance on the woman, her friends and acquaintances.

Observing that Right to Privacy is part of fundamental rights of ‘Right to Life’ under Article 21 of the Constitution, the Congress asked whether Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah have the right to conduct surveillance on a young girl as also tap her phones, phones of her friends and acquaintances with complete impunity in a totally illegal fashion.

“Why were extensive spying operations launched on an ‘oral undated request’ by father of an adult girl, as is being alleged in hindsight as a mode of defence?”

The Congress also termed as “shocking” the entire BJP leadership’s continuous and steadfast refusal to answer the reason, purpose and motive behind spying on a young woman at the instance of Mr. Modi.

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