Sadananda cornered over his choice of Lokayukta

CM promised to fill vacant Lokayukta post after Koppal by-election, but he is now facing opposition from within and outside his party over his choice of candidate

With Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda initiating the process of appointing a new Lokayukta, heat is on from all possible corners. While some are prepared to take the hot seat, the CM is facing opposition for his choice within and outside his party.

Great divide: A rift has developed between Yeddy and Sadananda and
K S Eswarappa

Sadananda had promised to fill the vacancy once the Koppal by-election concluded, but the void after Shivaraj Patil resigned, owing to the media exposure of his involvement in a land scam last month is kicking up some dust.

Now that the poll result is favouring the BJP, the CM has setout to initiate the process of appointing the Lokayukta and has written to leaders of the opposition in the legislative houses -- assembly and council -- as per the procedure, asking for their proposed candidates.

However, the leaders have written back urging for a meeting to discuss the issue.

According to the rule, a search committee comprising leaders of the opposition in the legislative houses, speaker of the assembly and chairman of the legislative council are required to shortlist candidates under supervision of the CM.

A list of those candidates shortlisted goes for approval to the Chief Justice of the High Court, following which the Governor makes the appointment.

Motamma, leader of the opposition in the council, confirmed that the letter written by the CM was received, but objected because of Sadananda's apparent attempt to skip the proper procedure.

"Things are not done like this. He has to call a meeting to discuss the issue and opinions have to be officially recorded. We can't respond to such letters and have written back asking him to call the meeting," Motamma said. The government has reportedly short-listed three candidates -- S R Bannur Matt, V Ravindran and N K Sodi -- and the opposition leaders are questioning why only three, when there are several eligible candidates.

The Lokayukta Act qualifies a retired judge of the Supreme Court or a retired CJ of the HC to be the Lokayukta.
Hackles were raised over the government's choice since many, including S R Nayak, currently chairman of the State Human Rights Commission, are eligible. Amongst the probable candidates are former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa's choice and fellow Lingayat, Bannur Matt.

Frowns galore
However, Sadananda is reportedly opposing the choice for fear that it would bring him a bad image since the previous Lokayukta was also a Lingayat. This has created a rift resulting in Yeddyurappa backing out from a state tour along with Sadananda and BJP state president K S Eswarappa.

While the programme was scheduled to start from October 8, notification of cancellation came in late last evening.

Meanwhile, the government is projecting a scene to show that no candidate other than its desired candidate, is coming forward to become the Lokayukta. "After Patil resigned as the Lokayukta, nobody is willing to occupy the hot seat. The expectation is very high while the political scenario in the state is so fluid," said a senior BJP leader.

Ridiculing the claim, Motamma said, "It's a lame excuse that the government is putting forward. There are many eligible candidates around. Let them first approach those candidates before saying no one is willing."

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