A big show of strength is being planned by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on September 25 with the “mother-of-all rallies” proposed at a location not far from Gandhinagar, just a few days ahead of the next court hearing on the appointment of a Lokayukta.
The rally, BJP leaders say, will also keep up the momentum generated by Mr. Modi's three-day ‘sadbhavana' fast that was held to project him on to the national political stage, among other things.
The appointment of a Lokayukta — the post has been vacant for close to seven years — has become a subject of controversy after Governor Kamla Beniwal notified it on receipt of a recommendation from the Gujarat High Court Chief Justice that Justice R.A. Mehta be considered for the job. Leader of the Opposition Shaktisinh Govil had also given his consent, as required under the Gujarat Lokayukta Act of 1986.
The Gujarat government questioned this, saying the Chief Minister was bypassed, and went to court challenging the appointment. On Wednesday, the High Court issued a fresh notice to Justice Mehta after the government admitted its failure to deliver the first notice ordered to be sent to him some three weeks ago. It also set September 28 as the next date for hearing the matter amid complaints that the government was deliberately delaying proceedings.
Party sources in Gujarat and Delhi say the Modi government has also convened a two-day session of the Assembly for September 26 and 27 when it could amend the Lokayukta Act to ensure that the government/Chief Minister has a decisive say in the appointment, which is not the case under the present Act.
The ‘Maha Rally', being planned on Behgaon Road between Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad, will adopt the slogan Anyaya hatao, Gujarat Bachao — get rid of injustice, save Gujarat. The meaning, as BJP sources explained, was that the imposition of a Lokayukta on Gujarat against the wishes of the government would be unjust.
However, the Chief Minister's political detractors in the BJP pointed out on Thursday that it was the Modi government that had challenged the Lokayukta appointment and gone to the High Court. Holding rallies just ahead of a date in court, they feel, may boomerang on the government.
Party leaders have also said the target was to get a crowd of five lakh and make it the biggest rally ever in the State. Apart from specifically focussing on the Lokayukta controversy — revving up the ‘Garvi Gujarat' (proud Gujarat) slogan by describing the appointment of a Lokayukta bypassing the State government as an “insult” to six crore Gujaratis — the rally will target the Centre for not respecting federalism.