Pressure is mounting on the Congress to sack Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan for his alleged links to Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society, but the party is undecided.
The party leadership believes sacking Chavan will not end the controversy. There could be a demand for the ouster of union ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushilkumar Shinde who, as successive chief ministers, had given the controversial project various clearances.
Adarsh society was floated by politicians and senior defence officers in 1999. The society’s promoters asked for land saying the beneficiaries of the project include Kargil war heroes. Several senior politicians and bureaucrats, who helped the society get the requisite clearances, also got flats in the tower.
While the plot was allotted to Adarsh during Shinde’s tenure, the decision to increase the floor space index was taken by the urban development department during Deshmukh’s tenure.
Revenue minister Narayan Rane, who is eyeing Chavan’s seat, is also fighting allegations of involvement in the Adarsh scam and another controversy over buying land near Mahabaleshwar.
“If Chavan resigns, Deshmukh and Shinde may have to step down on similar grounds. This had happened after the November 26, 2008, terror attacks when home minister RR Patil resigned and then there was pressure on Deshmukh to put in his papers too,” said a Congress minister requesting anonymity because he did not want to be quoted on the issue.
Chavan’s supporters have been telling the party top brass that he has strengthened the party since he was made chief minister in 2008 and reined in the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the Shiv Sena. A Chavan supporter, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said: “In the 2004 polls, the NCP got more seats than the Congress. In 2009, when Chavan lead the poll campaign, the Congress emerged as the single largest party in the Assembly.” he said.