Nationalist Congress Party chief and Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar finally broke his silence on the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam on Tuesday, saying that if the plot allotted to the society belonged to the state, the chief minister was in the clear.
"If the land is owned by the state, there is no irregularity. But if it was defence land, it's a serious matter," Pawar said.
Pawar was in Pandharpur, which is part of his Lok Sabha constituency, Madha, for a party function.
NCP legislator Jitendra Awhad, former MP Shriniwas Patil and former speaker Babasaheb Kupekar are all members of the controversial housing society in Mumbai's elite Colaba area.
It has been alleged that NCP ministers in the Maharashtra government Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil and RR Patil had nominated close aides for the society's membership.
All these ministers denied their involvement and Awhad said he would surrender the flat.
The 31-storey tower at Colaba was allegedly built in violation of environmental norms and on the promise that houses would be given to Kargil war veterans and widows.
But most of the flats were allotted to bureaucrats, politicians and Army and Navy commanders.
NCP state president Madhukar Pichad has said action against beneficiaries associated with the NCP would be taken only after a government inquiry into the case was completed.