The state government’s move to let politicians off the hook is being seen as a shrewd political move to preserve their leaders for the Lok Sabha elections. The government revised their Action Taken Report (ATR) yesterday to deliver a blow to bureaucrats who had been indicted by the inquiry commission set up to probe into irregularities at Adarsh co-operative housing society. However, former Chief Minister (CM) Ashok Chavan, and other politicians who had been named, didn’t see any action being taken against them.
The Congress wants Ashok Chavan to work to win Lok Sabha seats in the Marathwada region
Citing the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) case against the former minister, current CM Prithviraj Chavan had said, “According to a Supreme Court ruling, there cannot be two FIRs for the same offence. Hence, we haven’t proceeded with any action against Chavan.” But, the party seems to be saving Chavan, as it wants to utilise his services for the upcoming 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The ex-CM, who had put in his papers soon after the controversy broke out in 2010, met MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre at the former’s residence in Babulnath. Sources say Chavan himself had requested the meeting, showing his eagerness to come back to party work, after having being sidelined due to Adarsh. Thakre and Chavan, whose association goes back to their Youth Congress days, spoke for more than two hours.
Emerging after the meeting, Thakre spoke in favour of Chavan and supported him. He said, “The commission has said that the controversial piece of land belongs to the state government, and was not reserved for Kargil war heroes. No rules were flouted while sanctioning additional FSI to the society. He (Chavan) has not worked outside the ambit of the rules.”
The alacrity shown by the Congress is being viewed as a last-ditch attempt to save a few Lok Sabha seats in the Marathwada region, to which Chavan belongs. The region has eight Lok Sabha constituencies, of which two – Chavan’s hometown Nanded and Latur – belong to the Congress. “The party has no formidable leader in the region except Chavan, who can take on local BJP and Shiv Sena units,” say MPCC office bearers.
“We are trying to convince Ashok Chavan that since the commission’s findings have been accepted by the government, he can start working for the party. He should now concentrate on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections,” Thakre added. “At a time when the Congress is facing a stiff challenge from Narendra Modi-led BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party, we want an old stalwart like Chavan to be active,” said a senior office bearer.
But, state officials in the know of the Adarsh inquiry-related developments say the over-enthusiasm by the Congress can prove to be counterproductive, since the CBI is likely to pursue its case against Chavan vigorously. Though the agency has not received permission from Governor K Shankarnarayanan to prosecute the former CM, who has been accused of a quid pro co, the agency is likely to challenge the decision in the High Court soon.