Uttarakhand CLP, PDF members to hold another meeting on December 15

The crucial meeting of the Congress Legislature Party and members of the supporting Progressive Democratic Front (PDF), convened here by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on Sunday to thrash out a way to amend the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Act 2013 ratified by the President in September, concluded without a consensus. Many ruling Congress and PDF members supported the implementation of the Act while the government wanted to suitably amend it to weed out what it considers objectionable provisions. Another meeting would be held on December 15.

Many Congress and PDF members, including Ministers, abstained from the meeting citing various reasons.

Leader of the Opposition and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ajay Bhatt said the Chief Minister’s failure to satisfy his own flock showed that many within the ruling dispensation appreciated that the Lokayukta Bill (now an Act) passed by the erstwhile BJP government was a perfect piece of legislation that needed to be implemented immediately.

The BJP would support the government if it brought about suitable amendments at a later date, he said.

Mantri Prasad Naithani, PDF chairman and Minister for School Education who had not attended the meeting told The Hindu that his group was for first implementing the Act and then go in for suitable amendments.

Dinesh Aggarwal, Planning Minister and Congress MLA, said the government was concerned as implementing the Act, that was passed and forwarded to the President by the erstwhile BJP government led by B.C. Khanduri, had several provisions that would create panic among the officials. They would refuse to sign orders to avoid action from the Lokayukta.

“The government wants a Lokayukta who is powerful but not one who could supersede the executive or take action against the lower judiciary also,” Mr. Aggarwal said, adding that the issue would be discussed further with the Congress MLAs and alliance partners and a way out would be sought.

Referring to the BJP rhetoric that the Congress was afraid to implement the important Act, Mr. Aggarwal wondered why the BJP had not adopted the same in Gujarat. “Mr. Modi knew the merits and demerits of the Lokayukta Bill passed by the Uttarakhand BJP and did not use it in his State,” he said.

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