Mumbai: Former Maharashtra CM, Prithviraj Chavan, has created a flutter by accepting that some compulsions had prevented him from taking action against corruption in Adarsh Housing Society. He also accepted that if he had taken action then the Congress would have been decimated in the state.
In an interview to a leading English Daily, Chavan said that he had instituted a judicial inquiry in the Adarsh scam which was accepted partially by the Cabinet after the intervention of Rahul Gandhi.
He also clarified that as the CBI was conducting a separate inquiry against main person charged in the Adarsh report, Ashok Chavan, one could not have “two separate FIRs by two different agencies against the same person for the same crime.”
The Congress leader added that the Maharashtra government could not institute a new inquiry given the above circumstances.
However, he accepted that Adarsh had brought top Congress leaders of the state - Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushil Shinde and Ashok Chavan – under the radar.
Chavan is quoted by the Daily as saying that if he had “taken action against them then the Congress party would have been wiped out in Maharashtra.”
He went on to say that if he had sent them to jail then the Congress organisation would have been hit and the “party would have split”, even though nobody openly articulated it.
On the irrigation scam, Chavan said that for the sake of keeping the alliance with the NCP intact, he had not ordered a police inquiry or asked for a judicial commission report but had asked the irrigation department to clarify on the matter. He added that the white paper on irrigation scam was not a chargesheet on Ajit Pawar but just his way of finding out the truth.
Elaborating further the former Maharashtra CM said that “An SIT was set up with members of all parties but the NCP worked the back channels and made sure that it did not investigate anything”. He lamented that the SIT remained a technical and expert committee and was an SIT in name only.
Chavan candidly accepts that his hands were tied as he was running a coalition government in the state.
Nonetheless, the Congress leader slammed NCP leader and said that after Pawar had resigned from the Cabinet in the wake of the 'White Paper' he rejoined the government as he realised that “without power he was a nobody”.
He reiterated that he took back Pawar in the ministry only because the Congress was running the government in the state in alliance with the NCP and that dropping him would have meant that the government would have fallen.
Chavan clarified that he did not give Ajit Pawar any clean chit but that the NCP leader gave it to himself.
Meanwhile, Chavan's comments is reported to have caused a flutter within Congress ranks. However, at an AICC briefing in the national capital, party spokesperson Ajoy Kumar feigned ignorance about the interview by Chavan, saying that he had not seen it.
Although a senior Congress functionary did acknowledge that he was "flummoxed" upon reading the remarks by Chavan in the interview, he refused to go on record with his views on the issue, as per PTI.
Another senior party functionary, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Chavan's remarks suggest a bid to find excuses for the near certain defeat of the party under his leadership in Maharashtra in the Assembly polls.
On the other hand, the Chavan on Tuesday came under attack from BJP over the interview.
"A prominent newspaper has made a sensational claim. It says former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan, in an interview, has admitted he was a part of the corruption in Maharashtra and he made compromises in running the state of Maharashtra," BJP general secretary incharge of the state Rajiv Pratap Rudy told a press conference in Delhi, as per PTI.
"Chavan has accepted that had he acted against former CMs Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Ashok Chavan, the party would have been decimated," he added.
Alleging that Chavan had "protected those fit to be sent to jail", Rudy said, "Prithviraj Chavan was party to the corruption. This statement is an admission of guilt and corruption. That he ran a corrupt government has been proved by his remarks. He was an accomplice in the crime committed in Maharashtra."
Voting is scheduled for Maharashtra Assembly elections on October 15, with counting of votes to be done on October 19.
With PTI inputs