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Gujarat Congress chief faces
Binita Parikh in Ahmedabad | June 22, 2003 01:03 IST
The anti-corruption bureau has initiated an inquiry against the Gujarat Pradesh Congress president Shankersinh Vaghela for misuse of powers vested in him when he was the chief minister in 1997-98.
A similar case has also been filed against the then civil supplies minister Jasha Bharwad.
The inquiry, under contravening clause 13/1/d/2 of the Anti Corruption Act 1988, alleges that Vaghela let off five persons who had violated the Prevention of Black Marketing Act by canceling their detention orders passed by the district magistrate against them, a government press release said.
This includes Sajan Kumar, director of Sun Flame Private Limited, who was found illegally selling LPG cylinders, Raju Sachdev, Ramesh Shah and Salim Vohra of Vadtals Mahavir Traders who were hoarding wheat meant for the public distribution system, and Jayanti Shah and Himmat Solanki of Kapadwanj who were found guilty of black marketing of kerosene.
However, Vaghela has brushed off these allegations as politically motivated. Talking to rediff.com, he said, "The people are not getting disgusted with the BJP misrule. This step is taken merely to shift people's attention from the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government's failure."
He questioned the logic behind the six years delay in taking the action against him and said that he had, till date, not received any notice. "I do not even know the charges against me. I came to know about these charges from the press," Vaghela said.
However, State Civil Supplies Minister Kaushik Patel refuted any political intention behind the inquiry and said that if the BJP was interested in getting political mileage, they would have raised it at the time of state assembly elections.
Explaining the delay in taking action, he said, "The Lok Ayukta gave its report indicting Vaghela six months ago. Then, the decision had to be routed through proper channel like the general administrative department and the legal department had to put their notes. The ACB has already started its work now and we are acting as per the Lok Ayukta's recommendations, which clearly state that Vaghela misused his position as the CM."
If the allegations are proved right, then Vaghela could face upto 10 years of imprisonment.
The inquiry comes on the heels of the demands for a change in the leadership of the Congress, especially after its drubbing in the state elections.
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