The state cabinet rejected the report of the inquiry commission set up to look into the Adarsh housing scam after a meeting in Nagpur yesterday. The meet, held at Vidhan Bhavan, was attended by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and other ministers.
The findings of the two-member commission headed by retired high court judge J A Patil squarely put the blame on three former chief ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Ashok Chavan along with that on former revenue minister Shivajirao Patil-Nilangekar and members of the current cabinet, Sunil Tatkare and Rajesh Tope. The report concludes that all of them had patronised the housing society that was originally meant to provide homes to Kargil war widows and defence personnel.
If accounts emanating from political circles are anything to go by, CM Chavan was initially of the view that the report be accepted, but was “persuaded against it” by his cabinet colleagues. “A possible political fallout was the main reason,” said highly placed sources. The CM went ahead with his colleagues’ opinion and discarded the report. While the three ex-CMs and Nilangekar belong to the Congress, Tatkare and Tope are from NCP. Former CM Ashok Chavan has also been blamed for the clearances and permissions he doled out to the society as a quid pro quo.
Going in a huddle
Around 10 am yesterday, CM Chavan closeted with his deputy Ajit Pawar at his chambers in Vidhan Bhavan in Nagpur. During the same time, the other ministers were at the cabinet hall waiting for the meeting to begin. In his discussion with Pawar, the CM is believed to have expressed his desire to accept the conclusions of the report. But, sources claimed, deputy CM Ajit Pawar suggested that a decision be taken only after consultation with fellow ministers. Accordingly, around 10.45 am, the awaiting ministers were asked to join the duo in Chavan’s chamber. The second round of meeting lasted for another 45 minutes.
Here, it was argued that senior Congressman and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and ex-chief minister Ashok Chavan might come under fire if the government accepted the report. It might lead to vociferous demands for resignation of Shinde from the Union cabinet and NCP ministers Sunil Tatkare and Rajesh Tope from the state cabinet. The Democratic front state government would face the heat and land in trouble. As such, it was decided to reject the report.
Chavan had to go by the majority opinion of the cabinet, especially in view of the coming Lok Sabha elections , sources said. After the meeting, an action taken report (ATR) was drafted. Chavan has maintained utmost secrecy for the last seven months after the report was submitted to the state government. “The only copy submitted was in the personal custody of Chavan,” say sources.
After his government had to assure the high court on tabling it during the winter session of the state legislature, he assigned the task of printing copies of the report to an IAS officer. Just 350 copies were printed at a government printing press in Mumbai. PG Gosavi, director of the state printing press, was asked to transport these documents personally. At Nagpur, the district collector was asked to keep the copies with him before dispatching it to Vidhan Bhavan.
Opposition walks out over Adarsh issue
The Opposition parties in the state assembly yesterday walked out of the House after it was decided not to table the Adarsh housing scam report and the findings of the judicial commission probing the scam were rejected by the cabinet. Shiv Sena said the government is trying to evade the discussion on the report since their own former chief minister Ashok Chavan was involved in it.