New Delhi, Oct. 30 (ANI): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday demanded the immediate resignation of Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan for his role in the Adarsh Society scam.
Accusing Chavan of nepotism, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said that he should not be given time to leave office in an honourable manner.
"We demand the immediate resignation of Mr. Ashok Chavan. We certainly do not accept that he be given time to leave office, as is being projected by the Congress party", said Sitharaman.
She also demanded that the government form an inquiry committee to be headed by a sitting Supreme Court or High Court judge to probe the scam thoroughly and present the facts before the nation.
The government, she said, should also invoke the Defence of India Act and revoke the allotment certificate made to Adarsh Society.
The Congress, on the other hand, has reportedly decided to give a face-saving and honourable exit to Chavan.
Party sources also said that the two-member committee appointed to probe the scam has been formed with the objective of containing the political damage that has arisen.
The Congress, according to sources, is reluctant to face a major political crisis in the run-up to next month's visit to India by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Sources said the party and the government would like the visit to go off without a hitch. It was also revealed that the Congress leadership is wary and cautious about provoking a political and leadership crisis in Maharashtra.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A.K. Antony have been asked to investigate the scam surrounding the Adarsh Society in Colaba, Mumbai, and to submit a report to Gandhi at the earliest. Any decision regarding Ashok Chavan's political future is likely to be taken after the return of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from a three-nation foreign trip.
Congress sources said Chavan would continue in office till the report is submitted and the action taken thereof.
The decision to form a two-member probe committee was taken after Chavan met Sonia Gandhi. Gandhi is reported to have had consultations with both Mukherjee and Antony, giving them their brief on the matter.
Chavan has offered to resign in connection with his government's alleged role in the Adarsh Society housing scam.
Placing the onus of Gandhi to take a final decision on the issue, Chavan told media persons here this afternoon that he had presented all the facts connected to the project to the Congress president after she asked him to give a full explanation.
Chavan also said that he would welcome a probe by the Union Defence Ministry.
Rumor mills are reportedly agog with speculation that a decision could be taken by the Congress leadership within the next ten days. Speculation is rife, though unconfirmed, that Minister of State for Science and Technology and the Prime Minister's Office, Prithviraj Chavan, is one of the frontrunners for replacing Ashok Chavan at Mantralaya. The other person in the running is Mukul Wasnik.
Earlier, Ashok Chavan was summoned to meet Gandhi in connection with the controversial Adarsh Housing Society project.
Sources said the Congress leadership is upset with Chavan, whose mother-in-law and two other relatives are among 103 members of the housing society project in Mumbai.
It has been reported that Chavan was involved in clearing papers for the upscale high-rise Adarsh building project in his previous capacity as Revenue Minister.
On Friday, Chavan said he did not abuse his position to help his relatives get flats in the society, and added that he welcomed any sort of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the scam.
"I was not the Chief Minister of Maharashtra when the request for the land came up. I have no role in the allotment. I have not abused my position. These are politically motivated allegations," said Chavan.
Chavan further said the land belongs to the state government and was not reserved for Kargil widows or war heroes.
"The land belongs to the state government, based on the Collector's records. Revenue department land granted to the society as per GR of 9.7.1999. This land falls outside the defence boundary. It was not reserved for war veterans or Kargil heroes," said Chavan.
The 31-storey high-rise in Colaba has become a catchment area for a massive political controversy.
Former army chiefs, politicians and bureaucrats have all been allotted flats here for a fraction of the market rate. As of now, some of these members have decided to return their allotments (ANI)