Adarsh scam: Ashok Chavan alleges BJP pursuing political vendetta against him

Former CM says the CBI is seeking permission to prosecute him due to the BJP’s pressure tactics, as a similar request was rejected in 2013

Even as the ghost of the Adarsh scam has returned to haunt former CM Ashok Chavan, one of the 13 persons chargesheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), the state Congress president has accused the BJP of pursuing political vendetta against him.

Chavan had resigned as chief minister as he had secured flats for relatives in Adarsh Housing Society. File pic
Chavan had resigned as chief minister as he had secured flats for relatives in Adarsh Housing Society. File pic

Chavan said that the CBI’s act of seeking the Governor’s permission for prosecuting him, was a deliberate effort to frame him, despite the fact that the then Governor had rejected a prosecution plea in 2013.

“The BJP is using the CBI to seek political revenge against the Congress leaders who have exposed the BJP’s anti-public policies. This is part of a larger scheme against us in the Congress,” Chavan told mid-day on Thursday, while reacting to the request made to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao early this month.

The state Cabinet too has advised the governor to grant the CBI’s wish. Raj Bhavan officials refused to tell whether Rao has given the CBI his final nod. Chavan, who was removed unceremoniously from the CM’s office in 2010 after the Adarsh scam broke out, will face yet another test if he is prosecuted by the CBI.

Chavan’s rehabilitation came after he emerged as one of only two MPs the Congress fielded, who could manage to win against the Modi wave in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He was made chief of the state Congress last year and is seen as a leader who would lead the Congress in the next Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.

Prima facie case
BJP ministers felt that they needed to correct previous mistakes. “The then Maharashtra governor K Sankaranarayanan, who is a Congress leader, used his discretion to rescue Chavan, putting forth an argument that the then ministers would not have given him unbiased advice. This was kind of a crude joke. We want to expose the Congress for its sham,” said a senior minister.

In 2013, Sankaranarayanan had refused the CBI permission to prosecute saying he did not find that even a prima facie case could be made out against the Congress leader. He had decided against seeking the Cabinet’s opinion because he felt that it was unlikely that the ministers, who once worked under Chavan, would give him unbiased advice. He consulted (then) Solicitor General of India Mohan Parasaran, who told Raj Bhavan that no prima facie case existed to grant sanction to prosecute Chavan. (Then) Attorney General of India GE Vahanvati, however, did not give his views as the CBI and other government agencies had sought his advice in the case earlier.

It was on the basis of Sankaranarayanan’s order that the Congress-NCP Cabinet had decided to reject the Adarsh judicial commission’s report in December 2013. But the government had to reconsider its own decision following a communication from Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and his diktat for not rejecting it entirely.

So it is interesting now that the same CBI, which had requested the special court to drop charges against Chavan, has decided to press criminal charges against the ex-CM.

About the scam
The 104-member Adarsh society was embroiled in a controversy in 2010 after the defence department objected to the highrise, which overlooks important military installations in south Mumbai’s coastal area. Then Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan resigned from his post, as he had secured flats for relatives in the society. Several bureaucrats, politicians, and retired defence personnel who are members of the society faced criminal charges. The case is being heard by the Bombay High Court. A judicial commission appointed by the state government, however, later inferred that the Adarsh land is not owned by the ministry of defence.

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