Endless wait for Goa lokayukta

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 04, 2013 06:00 hrs

Panaji, Jan 4 (IANS) The wait for a lokayukta in Goa appears to be as endless and tiring as that in Samuel Beckett's landmark play "Waiting for Godot".

After promising to institute a lokayukta in Goa 100 days after coming to power, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's government has been unable to appoint a retired judge to head the office of the public ombudsman even after 10 months.

And the wait is forcing the opposition as well as civil society to question Parrikar's ability to tackle corruption.

"All the chief minister has to do is to write to the chief justice of the Supreme Court and high courts in neighbouring states. But this government does not have the intention of getting an anti-corruption mechanism in place," Aires Rodrigues, a lawyer and Right to Information activist, told IANS.

Appointing a lokayukta in 100 days of coming to power was one of the promises of the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) election manifesto.

The promise held significance to the electorate, because the preceding Congress-led regime was accused of one scam after another leading to the multi-million dollar illegal mining scam, in which then chief minister Digambar Kamat himself has been indicted in a judicial probe.

Parrikar, a self-proclaimed fan of the ombudsman authority, had publicly said he would be the first person to queue up and file complaints of corruption with the lokayukta.

But he has also said the reason the ombusman had not come through was because no former judge was willing to take up the position.

The delay and the excuses by Parrikar, despite being in power for over 10 months, is not something anti-corruption activist Satish Sonak is unwilling to buy.

All Parrikar has to do, Sonak said, is call either social activist Anna Hazare or former Karnataka lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde and ask them to recommend the name of an honest judge.

"I wish the chief minister would write to Anna Hazare or Justice Hegde to nominate a good person for lokayukta. If the chief minister does that, I'm sure he will get the name of a good former judge in 24 hours," he said.

According to Congress spokesman Sudip Tamhankar, the non-appointment of the lokayukta was one of the many u-turns the Parrikar-led government had taken.

"Whether it is the Lokayukta or casinos or mining issues, the u-turns have been this government's policy -- promise one thing and then not deliver," Tamhankar told IANS.

Responding to these charges, the BJP has said its government was open to suggestions from the public on nominations for the lokayukta's position.

"The government is open to suggestions. Anyone can suggest names," BJP leader and chairman of Goa Law Commission Narendra Savoikar told IANS.

Parrikar has also claimed that corruption from the upper echelons of power had been completely eradicated and that graft in lower bureaucracy was being weeded out.

Activist Rodrigues however has a different take on the delay.

He said the reason why the appointment of a Lokayukta was not being made was because the BJP-led coalition government was worried about exposing itself to probes.

"A number of cases will be filed against this government for acts of fraud and mal-governance. I have a couple of complaints ready for the Lokayukta, when the authority is appointed," Rodrigues said.

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