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2 years after CM’s promise of ‘strong’ Lokayukta, no sign of even a draft

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Reported by Chinmaya Dehury

Bhubaneswar, Dec 18:

naveen

In December 2011, he had promised a ‘strong’ Lokayukta Bill in three months’ time. He had even cited the model code of conduct then in force for the panchayat election for his inability to bring the legislation in this regard earlier. Coming as it did at the height of the Anna Hazare movement, one thought Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was serious about it.

‘’We will do our best to bring the Lokayukta Bill shortly. We will bring the Bill hopefully within the next three months after the panchayat polls are over,’’ he had told reporters on December 28, 2011 while reiterating his party’s stand on a ‘strong’ Lokpal for the country and bringing the CBI within its ambit.

But two years down the line, there is no word from the Chief Minister on when the ‘three months’ time’ will come to an end. On a day when Parliament passed the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill-2011, all that he had to say was; “It is a historic day. We supported the Bill whole-heartedly and I am sure this will bring about transparency in the system.”

Forget passing a ‘strong’ Lokayukta Bill in the Assembly, the BJD government has not found the time to prepare even a draft of the Bill in these two years. It is close to a month since the model code of conduct imposed for the urban elections has lapsed. So, he cannot even use the excuse a second time. It is obvious that entangled as it is in a host of scams, a Lokayukta – whether strong or weak – is the last thing in the BJD government’s list of priorities.

With the winter session of the Assembly having been adjourned sine die nine full days ahead of schedule, Naveen has made sure that he does not have to worry about the Lokayukta Bill till after the 2014 Assembly elections.

Predictably, the Congress, which took the lead in getting the Lokpal Bill passed in Parliament today, sought to corner Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for his failure to act on his two-year old promise.

As nobody from the government side is ready to explain the reasons behind non-implementation of the Chief Minister’s tall promise, the Congress alleged that Naveen does not want such a bill to be passed.

“Where is the strong Lokpal bill promised by the Chief Minister? The BJD government only makes promises to hoodwink the people. It has got a master’s degree in making promises that it has no intention to fulfill. As a large number of scams have come to light, Naveen has deliberately gone back on his word to avoid any embarrassment since anybody can file a petition against the Chief Minister and the Lokayukta will have to investigate it,” said Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan.

He also took a dig at the Chief Minister for not implementing the recommendations in the reports given by the Lokpal.

Lokpal had submitted as many as 30 special reports to the Governor since the BJD Government came to power. However, the Government had not tabled 21 of these reports, including the crucial one on land acquisition for the proposed Vedanta University, in the Assembly, he pointed out.

Odisha has a Lokpal and Lokayukta Act since 1971 and the office of Lokpal continues to exist. But, the government is yet to appoint a Lokpal, a post that is lying vacant since last 11 months.