Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, whose clean image has taken a beating in view of former chief vigilance commissioner PJ Thomas’s appointment, got a breather from the Congress high command on Thursday.
Member of Legislative Council, Sanjay Dutt, will vacate his seat for Chavan who needs to make it to the legislature before May 11, 2011.
Speculations were rife on Thursday afternoon when Chavan cancelled his official programme in Pune and flew to New Delhi to meet party president Sonia Gandhi.
When Chavan’s adversaries in the Congress and opposition expected something dramatic to happen, Gandhi expedited the process of getting the CM elected to the state legislature. Gandhi asked Dutt to vacate his seat for the chief minister.
“The high command gave Chavan a mandate for cleansing things as the new CM. But recent controversies created doubts about him as well,” said a senior Congress minister requesting anonymity. “Thursday’s development indicates that the party president wants to protect him.”
The CM’s name got involved in a recent controversy when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the Rajya Sabha that Chavan, the then minister in-charge of personnel department, had short-listed Thomas for the top post. Chavan clarified that the Kerala government had recommended Thomas’s name. Kerala CM, VS Achuthanandan, denied this and said that he opposed the selection.
The state Bharatiya Janata Party president, Sudhir Munganttiwar, said Chavan’s name had cropped up in the spectrum scams and ‘illegal’ allotment of flats.
State Congress spokesperson Anant Gadgil said, “We did not blame Chavan for anything related to CVC appointment. The BJP should ask the ‘corrupt’ Karnataka CM and Mumbai BJP president Raj Purohit to resign from their respective posts.”