Chavan in trouble: Admits kin getting Adarsh flats, summoned by Sonia

Even as Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Friday admitted that some of his relatives got flats in the building but have now surrendered them.

Updated: Oct 29, 2010, 22:44 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Mumbai: Even as Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Friday admitted that some of his relatives got flats in the building but have now surrendered them, Congress party president Sonia Gandhi cracked the whip on him and summoned him to Delhi.

Highly placed sources said tonight that Chavan, who
became chief minister a year ago, is likely to be asked to
step down in the wake of the Adarsh Housing scam.

The decision to summon Chavan to the Capital for a
meeting with the Congress Chief comes despite his announcement
only a few hours earlier that flats allotted to his
mother-in-law and two other relatives were being surrendered.

This has obviously not impressed the party leadership. But earlier in the day, the party appeared to be side-stepping questions over the issue. “The defence minister (AK Antony) has said clearly that the whole issue will be investigated. The party would not want to shield or to hold a brief for anybody. Let`s wait for the report,” Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said in Delhi.

Opposition BJP lost no time in demanding Chavan’s resignation. "It is shameful and shocking to know that premises made
for war widows is being exploited and used like this duing his
leadership ... I leave it to the sense propriety and
conscience of the chief minister for a decision," BJP
spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad told reporters in Patna.

Under intense media scrutiny over the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam, Chavan announced in Mumbai that he had asked
MMRDA to revoke occupancy certificates till Ministry of
Environment and Forest (MoEF) gives clearance and his kin had given up the flats that they had been allotted.

The embattled Chavan ruled out quitting his post,
saying there was no need to do so.
"Distant relatives...if they are eligible, then there
is no reason to deny them (flats)," Chavan said, after the
media expose that his mother-in-law, sister-in-law and one
more person got allotment in the building.

"Seema Sharma and Madanlal Sharma are distant
relatives. Today, they have informed in writing that they have
resigned from the Society," he said.

Chavan`s mother-in-law Bhagwati Sharma is dead and has
no nominee.

The prime piece of land in upmarket Colaba given to
the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society belonged to the state
government and not the Services, he said.

"The land belongs to the state government, based on
the collector`s records. Revenue department granted land to
the Society as per GR of 9.7.1999," he said.

"This land falls outside defence boundary. It was not
reserved for war veterans or Kargil heroes," Chavan said,
adding "The charges of my involvement (in the scam) are
politically motivated."

Asked if he felt he should step aside while the
inquiry was on, Chavan said, "There is no such need. Every day
one thing or the other goes on in politics. I have been in
politics for 40-45 years... one faces difficulties.

"I wasn`t a minister when the land was given to the
Society."

Ruling out a fresh probe into the alleged
irregularities in the project, he said, "CBI is already
handling the matter. The state government does not need to
institute a fresh inquiry.

"I have asked MMRDA to revoke occupancy certificate
till Ministry of Environment and Forest gives clearance."

On the MoEF permission, Chavan said Union Minister
Jairam Ramesh has written a letter to the state government.

"Earlier there was a letter from MoEF saying this authority
has been delegated to state government. From that basis, the
clearance must have been given (at the local level)," he said.

Today, there are 102 members of the Society, of which
37 belong to the Defence. All the plans were approved by the
BMC, he said.

He admitted the need for a new policy to be adopted by
the state government on allotment of plots, considering the
Adarsh row.

Chavan denied any role in inclusion of civilian
members in the Society, saying "This right is vested with
the Society. The right to check whether the admitted person is
eligible rests with the collector."

-Agencies inputs