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Cong Reignites Snoopgate

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Government on Saturday (3 May) re-ignited the 'snoopgate' issue allegedly involving Narendra Modi by asserting that a judicial Commission to probe it will be in place by May 16, evoking an angry reaction by BJP which warned of reviewing the "illegitimate" decision if it comes to power.
 
The party also warned of similar action if the government goes ahead with the "last-minute" moves to set up the Lokpal search committee and appoint Central Information Commissioners.
 
Reviving the 'snoopgate', involving spying on a young woman allegedly at the behest of Modi, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Law Minister Kapil Sibal said that an inquiry commission will be in place by the end of the Lok Sabha election process on May 16.
 
The government had decided on December 26 last year to set up the inquiry Commission but the process has got delayed reportedly because of its inability to zero in on a judge.
 
"The Cabinet had taken the decision to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to probe the incident of snooping on a woman in Gujarat. We will soon appoint the judge....before May 16," Shinde told a press conference in Shimla.
 
Asked if the appointment of a judge in the midst of Lok Sabha elections would not amount to violation of the Model Code of Conduct, Shinde said, "It will not. The decision had been taken by the Union Cabinet much before the model code of conduct came into force." 
 
"I am worried. The way the Chief Minister of Gujarat had snooped into the life of a woman, I am really worried what will happen to the women of the country if he becomes the Prime Minister," Shinde said.
 
In New Delhi, Law Minister Kapil Sibal also said that a judge will be appointed by May 16.
 
Reacting sharply, BJP leader Arun Jaitley said the government was showing "desperation" and that it will be within the purview of the new government to hold this decision as "illegitimate".
 
The party also charged the government of "stooping low" by attempting to appoint a judge merely 15 days ahead of the next government formation. 
 
"In the last 10 days when the last two phases of polling is left, government is appointing Central Information Commissioners, they are trying to complete the Lokpal Search Committee and appoint a judge on the Snoopgate, where no judge is making himself available for the last five months."
 
"There is desperation in UPA to fill these posts and there is an intention as well as attempts in this regard. BJP will strongly oppose all such moves," Jaitley said.
 
He said the bureaucracy should give the political part of government "the right advice" so that it takes decisions which are as per past traditions.
 
"If they still do (go ahead), it will be well within the purview of the next government to hold such actions as illegitimate," the BJP leader said.
 
To a question on whether the government can make the appointments before its tenure ends, he said, "The Centre has no right at this stage to form a Committee."
 
Asked if a Commission will be legally tenable, he said, "At this stage when the Code of Conduct is in operation, how is it legally tenable." 
 
He added that the Gujarat government had already set up a Commission to probe the issue.
 
Asked when it would give its report, Jaitley said it would take "one per cent" of the time taken by Liberhan Commission which went into Ayodhya demolition issue.
 
Jaitley had yesterday said he would be "surprised" if there is a judge who has "agreed to 'lend' himself to the UPA".
 
Rubbishing it, Union Minister Sibal said BJP is worried as its leaders know that "once the Commission is set up, there is no saving for Narendra Modi because there is documentary evidence of what he (Modi) has done and how he has snooped the activities of a young girl..." .
 
(Agencies)