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'Constitutional impropriety rampant': Ex-BJP CM to head non-partisan Gujarat platform

By Our Representative 
Former BJP chief minister Suresh Mehta has alleged that the Gujarat government is “openly violating basic constitutional norms” by refusing to be transparent on certain mystereious financial transactions. Talking with media, Mehta, who has just turned 87, said, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report mentions that huge funds from the state exchequer are being used, yet the state government has refused to reveal detail where they are going.
BJP CM in mid-1990s, Mehta, who resigned from the BJP in 2007 following differences with Narendra Modi, who ruled Gujarat then, said, mysterious budgetary subheads are being created under “head 800”, where funds are being sent, but “there are no accounts” which could suggest how much the amount is. “It could run in thousands of crores”, he said, adding, “CAG has taken serious note of such a situation.”
Offering an example of the “unaccounted funds”, Mehta said, when international dignitaries visit Ahmedabad, the slum areas along the roads are covered with long green curtains so that they do not see rampant poverty of the city. “It is this kind of expenditure which is being transferred into the head 800, about which no details are being offered even to CAG”, he said.
Flanked by senior environmentalist Mahesh Pandya and well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, Mehta told the media, it is to highlight such and other constitutional impropriety that several concerned Gujarat citizens have come together to begin a campaign Jan Abhiyan Badle Gujarat. “It’s a non-political platform to make make people aware of the type of misgovernance taking place in Gujarat and suggest alternatives”, he said.
Giving details, Sarabhai, who is also a social activist, said, as part of the campaign it has been decided to set up Balwantrai Mehta Research and Training Institute, where elected representatives as activists in public life with be trained about where Gujarat is heading and where it should head. “One hears the critique of majoritarianism and how it is harming the state and its people. Our aim would be suggest an alternative narrative”, she underlined.
Balwantrai Mehta was the second chief minister of Gujarat. A freedom fighter who refused to take the BA degree offered by the British, he is considered as the 'architect of Panchayati Raj due to his contributions towards democratic decentralisation. He died in a plane crash during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, while flying from Tata Chemicals, Mithapur, to the Kutch border between India and Pakistan. The plane was shot down by a Pakistan Air Force pilot.
“If Gujarat is such a model state, there is a need to answer as to why are even well to do people want to get out of the state and search for job elsewhere in the world? Why are so many women disappearing? Is this how we are becoming a Vishwa Guru?”, she asked. “We will seek answers to these and other questions in our own small way at a time when nobody appears willing to speak out about why things are turning from bad to worse.”

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