Chavan offers to quit over housing scam (Roundup)

October 30th, 2010 - 10:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi/Mumbai, Oct 30 (IANS) Under flak over a housing society scam, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan Saturday offered to resign at a meeting here with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi who has asked two union ministers to probe the matter.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has demanded Chavan’s immediate resignation and a probe by a Supreme Court judge into the Adarsh Housing Society flats, built on land meant for the families of Kargil martyrs.

Chavan’s mother-in-law, who died earlier this year, owned a flat in the society, as well as two other of his relatives.

Gandhi constituted a two-member team comprising Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A.K. Antony to probe how the 31-storeyed plush housing society came up on the piece of land in Colaba in Mumbai and the allotment of flats to politicians, bureaucrats and military officials.

“It is a fact that Chavan has offered to resign. But a decision on the matter would be taken after the two-member committee submits a report to the Congress president,” Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi told reporters at the Congress office here.

Chavan met Gandhi at her 10, Janpath residence earlier in the day.

Antony, who is in charge of Congress affairs in Maharashtra, and Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, were also present at the meeting, sources said.

Accompanied by his wife Amita, Chavan earlier met Ahmed Patel.

“I have explained all details about the society controversy to the Congress president. I have also offered to resign,” Chavan told reporters.

Chavan, 52, said he told Gandhi: “I am here, my resignation is also here. I leave it to you to take a final view.”

“I have kept the truth in front of her… The truth should come out so that we can find out who all are responsible,” he said.

Congress circles said Gandhi may discuss the Maharashtra political issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who returned in the evening from a foreign tour.

“A decision on Chavan’s resignation may be taken in the next 48 hours. Otherwise it may be after a week or so,” a senior Congress leader told IANS in Mumbai.

In Delhi, Congress circles said the issue has gained importance as the special session of the All India Congress Committee( AICC) is due to start there Tuesday.

“Our senior leaders Antony-ji and Pranab Mukherjee are finding out the details. Sonia-ji will take an appropriate decision after that,” Mohan Prakash, Congress secretary in-charge of Maharashtra, told IANS.

Meanwhile, the BJP has demanded that Chavan be sacked immediately. “The BJP demands the chief minister should immediately resign or be removed immediately,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters in New Delhi.

Chavan also said he welcomed the probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the defence ministry into the housing society scam.

Some retired senior military officers who got flats have offered to return the allotment.

Congress sources said the two-member committee will look into all the facts relating to the ownership of the piece of land.

Party sources said any decision to replace Chavan will also have to be accompanied by search of his successor. Congress’s alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) may also be consulted in case of a leadership change.

They said the Maharashtra government is also likely to look at any clearances given for the construction of flats during the rule of the National Democratic Alliance government.

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