In a blatant cover up, the state cabinet ministers on Friday closed ranks to protect their own and rejected the findings of the final report on the Adarsh scam. While other politicians have also been named, their main concern was to shield former chief minister Ashok Chavan ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Rattled by their rout in four assembly polls held recently, the Congress top brass has refused to sacrifice Chavan, known for his political acumen. The former chief minister has been indicted for trading favours as three of his relatives got flats in the tower.
The report also says the uncle Madanlal Sharma's flat was benami as its funding came from Malav Shah, son of a well-known builder Jayant Shah, known to be close to Chavan. Though Chavan's troubles are not completely over, with the governor's refusal to sanction his prosecution by the CBI this month, for now the Congressman is free to lead from the front.
"It is about political survival for the Congress. Ashok Chavan is the sole senior Congress leader who has the acumen to lead the party to an electoral win. In the 2009 elections, his leadership had earned the Congress handsome dividends," said B Venkatesh Kumar, political analyst.
Chavan led the 2009 polls that saw the Congress increase its tally from 69 to 82, though some of it also had to with the entry of Narayan Rane into the party.
The gap between the Congress and NCP legislators also increased by 20, from just 2 in 2004. Within the party, there is also a belief that chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, seen as a technocrat, may not be able to lead the party by himself.
NCP, Congress ally which is unhappy with incumbent chief minister, toed the line. This was also done to protect its own indicted ministers - Sunil Tatkare and Rajesh Tope.
The government also saved itself the trouble of conducting further probe into the benami flats in the society. This, activists say, will only lead to further skeletons falling out of the closet as a majority of these flats have been funded by top politicians.