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Cong clean-up claims Chavan

india Updated: Nov 10, 2010 01:31 IST

Moving swiftly after US President Barack Obama left the country and just hours before the winter session of Parliament began, the Congress accepted Ashok Chavan's resignation as Maharashtra chief minister for his alleged involvement in the Adarsh housing society scam.

Union minister Prithviraj Chavan has emerged as one of the front-runners for the chief minister's post along with other such as Union minister Mukul Wasnik, state transport minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and agriculture minister Balasaheb Thorat.

The names of senior leaders such as Sushilkumar Shinde and Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil are also doing the rounds.

Senior Congress leaders AK Antony and Pranab Mukherjee arrived in Mumbai to meet party legislators and choose a new leader of the Congress Legislature Party, who will become the chief minister.

The meeting adopted a resolution to leave the decision to Sonia Gandhi. The announcement is expected on Wednesday.

On Tuesday morning, the party leadership told the 52-year-old Chavan that his resignation had been accepted.

"Pending inquiry, Chavan's offer of resignation has been accepted," senior leader Janardhan Dwivedi said.

Chavan resigned on October 30 after the names of three relatives, including his mother-in-law and sister-in-law, figured in the list of Adarsh members.

The 31-storey housing society is embroiled in controversy, with politicians, bureaucrats and defence officials being accused of grabbing flats in a building that was constructed for Kargil heroes.

The issue had left the Congress red-faced.

The party bowed to "perceptions" by removing Ashok Chavan as Maharastra CM and Suresh Kalmadi as secretary of the Congress parliamentary party.

The axing helped the party defuse the Opposition's move in Parliament to some extent though non-UPA parties are ready to take the battle to the next level by asserting that mere resignations are not enough.

"A lot of cleansing operation is required in Maharashtra," said a Congress leader.

Sources spoke of the need to check the growing influence of the builders' lobby on a section in the party.

The action against Chavan and Kalmadi came barely a week after the AICC meeting in Delhi where the Congress leadership did not refer to the issue of corruption at all. "The silence was strategic because the party wanted its actions to speak for itself," said a leader.

Chavan's fate was sealed when he offered to "resign" on October 30 after he was summoned by Sonia Gandhi. But with Obama due to visit India, the Congress gave Chavan breathing space by tasking a panel comprising Pranab Mukherjee and AK Antony to look into the roles of the CM and his predecessors Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushilkumar Shinde, both Union ministers now.

On Tuesday, the two leaders submitted their report. Mukherjee said: "We have taken a decision (to accept Chavan's resignation) based on reports, certain perceptions and some facts."