Diwali might prove to be a dark one for beleaguered Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan. But the Adarsh scandal has cast an even darker shadow on probity in public life in the case of Maharashtra and indeed, many other states. Had there not been the two news pegs of security and the Kargil martyrs issue involved in the case, it is quite possible that it would have quietly moved off the headlines as yet another land scam to which we have become accustomed.
In Maharashtra, irrespective of which government has been in power, the lines between realty and politics have been blurred. Land has always been a precious commodity in Mumbai and has been hijacked by powerful, vested interests from at least the early 60s. The Congress has creditably acted with alacrity by appointing a probe to be conducted by two ministers with impeccable reputations like Pranab Mukherjee and AK Antony and also specified that it would not take too long to come out with a report. The probe is bound to look
into many issues apart from Mr Chavan's involvement in the matter. It would seem that from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority to BEST to the army to the Opposition, everyone looked the other way as the giant 31-storey structure came up and flats were allotted within it.
This was, after all, not a subterranean transaction that was difficult to detect.
This would suggest that there was either the involvement or tacit approval of many interests far beyond the political. Whatever the outcome of the probe, there is an urgent need to relook at the issue of those in public life conducting themselves, like Caesar's wife, in a manner which is beyond reproach. The very fact that politics and politicians are getting a bad name is because such scandals that surface with regularity are seen to fade away without the culprits being brought to book. This should also encourage all political parties to ensure that checks for such improprieties are an ongoing process and not just when things reach tipping point. The land mafia in most metropolises have their tentacles so deep into the system that only a systematic and transparent clean-up can prevent such scams as the Adarsh one in future. Affixing blame on Mr Chavan alone will not clean up the larger mess. This would be a good issue for all political parties to consider in the coming session of Parliament for none of them have covered themselves in glory when it comes to the issue of realty. There is certainly much ground to be covered here that will have repercussions far beyond Maharashtra.