Congress issues gag order to warring ministers | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Congress issues gag order to warring ministers

The Congress has asked all its ministers accused of having a hand in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society controversy to stop issuing statements on the matter.

mumbai Updated: Nov 02, 2010 01:33 IST
Dharmendra Jore

The Congress has asked all its ministers accused of having a hand in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society controversy to stop issuing statements on the matter.

Toeing the party line, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan did not reply to former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s claim to CNN-IBN, a news channel, that Chavan, during his tenure as revenue minister, was responsible for the irregularities. Deshmukh is currently Union minister for heavy industries.

Environmental norms were allegedly violated while the building was constructed. Also, the society has been accused of getting the land by promising to build houses for war veterans and widows and then allotting flats to politicians, bureaucrats and Army and Navy commanders.

On Sunday, Deshmukh, Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Maharashtra Revenue Minister Narayan Rane, who were accused of aiding Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society get clearances, denied any involvement. All of them are vying to replace Chavan as chief minister.

A senior Congress leader confirmed on condition of anonymity that the party has issued the gag order.

“So much has been said. It’s complicating things at a time when the party is doing damage control by blaming the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for giving clearances to the society before 2003,” said the leader.

On Monday, Chavan, who never gave up an opportunity to embarrass Deshmukh earlier, refused to comment on Deshmukh’s allegations.

“I’m going to New Delhi this evening for a meeting,” was all he said.

Deshmukh had said on Sunday that he, as chief minister, did sign the letter of intent for 20 people who wanted to become members of Adarsh, but insisted that he did it in good faith because his revenue minister [Chavan] had already approved the society’s proposal.

Deshmukh denied recommending memberships for anybody. No Adarsh member was his aide or relative, he said.

Deshmukh did not answer calls or text messages on Monday.

It was alleged that three people Deshmukh recommended were members of the society.

Congress Lok Sabha MP Sanjay Nirupam demanded an inquiry into the NDA ministers’ role.

“George Fernandes was defence minister when the land was transferred to Adarsh and the Shiv Sena’s Suresh Prabhu headed the ministry that gave environmental clearance,” he said.