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Cong Dumped Adarsh Report to Save Shinde

Author: Rohit Chandavarkar
Publication: The Times of India
Date: December 25, 2013
URL: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-12-24/news/45540019_1_adarsh-sushil-kumar-shinde-housing-society

Introduction: Party leaders admit home minister shielded to save government the blushes

Former chief minister of Maharashtra Ashok Chavan may be seen as a prominent Maratha face the Congress is trying to protect in the aftermath of Adarsh scam exposure but senior leaders of the party admit that the Congress decided to dump the Adarsh Commission report in order to save embarrassment to union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde as well. Though the Maharashtra government accepted only half of the part of Adarsh judicial commission report, it is now known that the report indicts three former chief ministers of the state.

Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Ashok Chavan are indicted for giving various clearances to the controversial housing society. Though the report concludes that the land used by Adarsh society belongs to the state government and not to defence, the report also exposes glaring violations of norms in providing clearances to the housing society.

“Because of immense pressure from the opposition parties, the Congress decided to reject the report because of the fear that Sushilkumar Shinde will have to resign from the union cabinet. We demanded in the assembly that the entire report should be tabled but they have not done that,” said Devendra Phadanvis, state president of the BJP. “Vilasrao Deshmukh passed away in 2012 and Ashok Chavan was asked to quit the chief minister’s position in 2010. The only leader who has not felt the Adarsh scam heat is Sushilkumar Shinde. The party wants to save him as he is seen as a Gandhi family loyalist,” said a senior MPCC member.

Congress and NCP have jointly run a government in Maharashtra since 1999. With fears about a major antiincumbency wave in Maharashtra, the Congress now wants to ensure that during the 2014 campaign, they have leaders who enjoy mass support in regions such as Marathwada and Vidarbha. The party is most concerned about having the caste equation right. Ashok Chavan is seen as the only prominent Maratha face of the party in the Marathwada region while Shinde is the most established Dalit face.

The party will heavily depend on faces such as Ashok Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde to mobilise cadres in not just their home districts of Nanded and Sholapur but also in their respective regions. But analysts feel this damage control may not work for the Congress party. “Though the Adarsh Commission report has been rejected by the Maharashtra cabinet, it is not going to help them much. Because of media exposing the facts and opposition using this issue, the perception against the Congress party over Adarsh scam will consolidate in any case,” said political analyst Pratap Asbe.

- rohit.chandavarkar@timesgroup.com
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