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Rahul Gandhi wants to open Pandora's box

It’s not just the Congress-led state government that is in the dock with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s disagreement with rejection of the Adarsh inquiry commission report.

Governor K Sankaranarayanan may also find himself in an awkward position because of his decision to snub the Central Bureau of Investigation’s request to prosecute former chief minister Ashok Chavan for his role in the controversy. After the cabinet decided to reject the report on December 20, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had been displeased with the stand. As reported by this newspaper on December 21, he had been in favour of accepting the report, but was persuaded otherwise by his colleagues.

However, after Gandhi’s statement that the state government should not have rejected the report, Chavan said in New Delhi that he would consult his colleagues again. When Chavan, during his meeting with his deputy Ajit Pawar at Vidhan Bhavan in Nagpur, favoured accepting the probe panel’s findings, he was advised to hold a discussion with the cabinet. But most ministers were against accepting the report, arguing that it might create trouble for the government. The meeting concluding with the drafting of a one-line action taken report (ATR), which was later tabled in the state legislature.

If the report is accepted, Congress would face certain problems by supporters of former chief minister Ashok Chavan and Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, as any action against them would cripple the party in at least two to three districts, before the general and state elections next year, say office bearers of the state Congress unit. “But we will be able to convince people that the party has zero tolerance for corruption, and that will bolster our image among the public,” said a senior office bearer of Congress.

Meanwhile, the BJP has trained its guns on Chavan. The leader of Opposition in the state council, Vinod Tawde, has demanded his resignation after Gandhi’s reaction. The report has held IAS officers Pradip Vyas and Jairaj Phatak guilty for quid pro quo along with retired IAS officer Ramanand Tiwari. While action against Ashok Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde is certain to trigger reactions from their supporters, action against IAS officers is set to have a far-reaching impact with a possible non-cooperative stance taken by the IAS officers, because the IAS officers association had lodged its protest soon after the arrests of Pradip Vyas and Jairaj Phatak.

Likely action
If the state accepts the Adarsh inquiry committee’s findings:

1. The government would have to take action against Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and former chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Shivajirao Patil Nilangekar.

2. Ruling coalition partner NCP may be pressed to act against its ministers Sunil Tatkare and Rajesh Tope, as the report says they exceeded their brief to hold meetings on the issue, which was beyond their authority

3. The government would have to initiate action against nine senior officials, six of whom have already retired from the service. The report observes that six officers violated service rules while processing the files on Adarsh.

They are: Subhash Lala and C S Sangitrao (both of whom were secretary to former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh), former chief secretary D K Shankaran, city’s ex-collector I A Kundan, retired additional chief secretary T C Benjamin, and former deputy secretary P V Deshmukh.

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