BJP delegation meet Prez, seek removal of Guj Guv

New Delhi: A BJP delegation, led by party chief Nitin Gadkari, today met President Pratibha Patil to demand the removal of Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal, alleging that she had grabbed agricultural land worth Rs 600 crore in Rajasthan.

The BJP delegation submitted documents to Patil and drew her attention to an order of the Office of Cooperative Registrar, Jaipur issued on May 2.

"The Cooperative Registrar, who also has quasi-judicial powers, has said political influence was used to grab the Rajasthan government land worth Rs 1,000 crore. The Gujarat Governor has occupied part of this land illegally and it should be taken back," Gadkari told reporters.

The BJP leaders asked the President to intervene in the matter and either ask Beniwal to resign or remove her.

"A criminal case cannot be registered against Beniwal by the Rajasthan government as long as she is a Governor. BJP has appealed to the President to withdraw her pleasure and direct Kamla Beniwal to step down as Gujarat Governor pending thorough investigations into the entire land grab scandal," Gadkari said.

BJP has also demanded that the Rajasthan government be asked to explain why no action has been taken in the matter.

Gadkari said Beniwal`s claim to the Registrar that she and other members of the society did 16 hours farm labour work for the last 58 years is unbelievable. "The Registrar has said in his order that it is a blatant lie," he said.

Interestingly, senior BJP leaders L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and others did not form part of the BJP delegation. Their absence has come at a time when there are murmurs of differences between Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and some of the senior BJP leaders.

The relatively small BJP delegation comprised of party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman, MPs Balbir Punj, Bhupendra Yadav and Arjun Meghwal and party secretary Kirit Somaiya among others.

The land allegedly grabbed by Beniwal and some other "highly influential persons" is located at the outskirts of Jaipur. BJP has charged that this land was grabbed through fraudulent means.

This is not the first time that BJP has attacked Beniwal, who is not on the best of terms with Modi. The matter was raised in both Houses of Parliament in the Budget session, with the BJP even forcing an adjournment.

"People are expecting a satisfactory response from Kamla Beniwal. But she is maintaining a studied silence. The Rajasthan government too is refusing to take any serious cognisance of the scandal," Gadkari said.

The opposition party maintained that after the serious strictures passed by the Cooperative Registrar, Beniwal`s continuance in office has become untenable.

"Constitutional propriety also demands that she must relinquish the high office of Governor forthwith," the party said.

Asked about the President`s response, Gadkari said she gave the delegation a patient hearing and assured them that she would look into the matter.

"We do not want to do any politics on this issue. We have placed all the facts and evidence on record," Gadkari said.