Paving the way for Ashok Chavan's political rehabilitation, the Congress on Tuesday nominated the former Maharashtra CM as its Lok Sabha candidate from Nanded. His nomination comes as a surprise because Chavan is an accused in the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam and was forced to quit as CM in 2010 after it was alleged that he misused his official position.
The Congress, however, justified its decision, saying Chavan has not been convicted in the scam and that he is a victim of perception. "Neither any court nor the Election Commission has barred Ashok Chavan from contesting polls," Congress general secretary Ajay Maken said.
Chavan's return could see him involved in a fierce battle with CM Prithviraj Chavan to rule the roost in Maharashtra. So far, he was relegated to the back burner in state politics because of the Adarsh scam, but the Lok Sabha nomination could give him a fresh lease of life.
The former CM confirmed to dna that he has been nominated by the party to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Nanded. However, before the party gave its nod for Chavan's candidature, his wife, Ameeta, had filed her nomination papers from Nanded on Tuesday. Now, she can file her B form once the Congress declares her as the official candidate. "It is now up to Ashok Chavan to decide whether he or his wife should contest the polls," Manikrao Thakre, president of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, told dna.
A senior Congress leader said the state and central parliamentary committee cleared Chavan's candidature, but admitted that there were some differing opinions. "There were some doubts raised by a few leaders, including CM Prithviraj Chavan, on Ashok Chavan's candidature. They felt it would give credence to the talk that the Congress was protecting corrupt leaders. This decision may damage the party's prospects in the state as the CM was banking on his 'Mr Clean' image to garner more seats in the Lok Sabha polls. However, in legal terms, Ashok Chavan has not been convicted in the Adarsh scam," the leader told dna.
He said the party faced a similar situation when it decided to nominate former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal from Chandigarh. "There were allegations that Bansal was involved in taking bribes for promoting railway officers. However, the investigation failed to prove anything. Bansal was therefore not guilty and the party decided to field him from Chandigarh," he said.
Another senior Congress leader refused to compare Ashok Chavan's case with Suresh Kalmadi's, who has failed to get a ticket. "He (Kalmadi) was behind bars for a few months for his alleged involvement in the Commonwealth Games scam. There were official reports and documentary evidence against Kalmadi, proving his involvement. Therefore the party denied him a ticket for the Lok Sabha polls," he said.