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Sonia defends election ticket to 'tainted' Chavan

Agencies  New Delhi/Nanded, March 26, 2014
First Published: 14:51 IST(26/3/2014) | Last Updated: 17:35 IST(26/3/2014)

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday defended her party's decision to field Ashok Chavan in the Lok Sabha polls despite corruption charges against him.

"The decision of giving Ashok Chavan ticket was taken by the CEC. As far as we know, Chavan is not barred from contesting the election by any law," Gandhi told the media in New Delhi.

Chavan, who is battling corruption charges related to a housing society in his home state, is the Congress candidate from Nanded.

Chavan, who had stepped down in the wake of the Adarsh scam, on Wednesday filed nomination papers from Nanded Lok Sabha constituency.

Read: Congress election manifesto promises India for all; Rahul slams 'exclusionary' Modi

Brushing aside controversies surrounding him over Adarsh housing scam, Congress on Tuesday decided to field the senior state party leader for the Lok Sabha polls.

"We are 100% sure that we will win," Chavan said after filing his nomination.

Asked if his conscience was clear on the Adarsh issue, Chavan said, "Yes. I am absolutely clear. I have done no wrong."

When questioned if his party has made a mistake (in fielding him) given the fact that Rahul Gandhi has made anti-corruption his poll plank, Chavan said, "Where is the corruption in this (Adarsh) issue. Let us not talk about issues which are irrelevant."

"I think the issues on which the opposition is harping on...they have no moral authority to talk on these issues. What about Yeddyurappa? Can BJP clarify its stance on Yeddyurappa and the Reddy brothers involved in the mining issue?" he asked.

When pointed out that he was charge sheeted in the Adarsh scam, Chavan said, "Yes, but I have not been convicted. Also, I am not disqualified to contest the election. You see, there are rules, there is a legal provision. So nothing bars me from contesting any election. So the legal position is very clear.

Asked how his case was different from Suresh Kalmadi's, Chavan said, "I don't want to comment on his case. The party has taken the decision and I will go by the party's decision."

Replying to a question whether his being fielded weakens the Congress' stand against corruption as it was Sonia Gandhi who had asked him to step down as CM in the wake of the Adarsh scam, Chavan said, "Where is the corruption? Let us not bring Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi into this issue. How are they concerned here?"

Chavan resigned as CM in November 2010 after his name figured in the Adarsh scam.

His successor, Prithviraj Chavan, set up a judicial commission to probe the alleged scam. The commission submitted its report saying Chavan did allot flats to his close relatives, which amounted to a quid pro quo.

To a query on the commission's recommendations, Chavan said, "The judicial commission's provisions are not binding on the government."

"You see, the party stand is very clear. There is no corruption issue involved in my case. It is only a media hype created by certain sections of media," Chavan said.

To a query on the Adarsh case, Chavan said, "The matter is sub-judice. Let us wait and watch. The legal provisions are very clear. I have not been convicted. The legal process will take its own course." "Ultimately, the stamp of approval will be given by the people of Nanded constituency, who will decide what is true and what is hype," Chavan said.

"When we talk about morality, I think the people of Nanded are more responsible to take a decision on this issue," he said.

Asked if winnability was the main issue which prompted Congress to field him, Chavan said, "I am not saying winnability is not an issue, but there are other factors.

"People of Nanded have stood by us and they are confident that I have done no wrong," the Congress leader said.

(With IANS and PTI)

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