NEW DELHI / MUMBAI: Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan Tuesday stepped down after the Congress leadership accepted his resignation following allegations of his connections with the Adarsh housing scam.
Chavan, who had offered to quit last week, submitted his resignation to Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan who asked him to continue till a successor was appointed.
"Pending inquiry, his offer of resignation has been accepted. He has been asked to tender his resignation to Maharashtra governor (K. Sankaranarayanan)," Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told IANS in the national capital.
Party insiders added that Chavan had offered to quit last week when he met top leaders in the national capital.
"He had offered to quit last week during his meeting with top leaders in New Delhi. His offer has been accepted," sources told IANS.
It is learnt that Chavan had offered to resign Oct 30 when Chavan met Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Gandhi had constituted a two-member team comprising Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to probe the allotment of Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society flats in Mumbai, originally meant for families of soldiers killed in the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan, to politicians, bureaucrats and military officials.
Congress said soon a new leader would soon be named to head the state, ruled by a Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) coalition.
"This is the high principle stand and this is what never happens in any other party. We have an established procedure in these circumstances. A new leader will be elected. It is an obvious process against anybody found guilty and anybody against whom any inquiry in pending," said Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan.
A team of central party observers is expected to reach Mumbai later Tuesday and a meeting of Congress legislators is being called in the night around 10 p.m. to decide on Chavan’s successor, party insiders in Mumbai said.
Though no clear indications are available on Chavan’s successor, several names are doing the rounds – these include union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Prithviraj Chavan and prominent Maharashtra leaders like Narayan Rane, Balasaheb Thorat and Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, sources said.
The decision to accept Chavan’s resignation came hours before the start of the winter session of parliament and is being seen in political circles as an attempt to take the sting out of the attack by opposition on the government concerning Adarsh society bunglings.
The opposition, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left, have decided to make corruption the main issue during the session.
Chavan had come under the scanner in the Adarsh society scam after questions were raised on his role as revenue minister and revelations that one of the flats was owned by his mother-in-law. Names of some of his other relatives had also cropped up as beneficiaries of flats.
Party sources said a reason for Chavan’s resignation not being accepted earlier was the visit of US President Barack Obama who was to start his first official trip to the country from Mumbai.
The BJP said they will wait for the report of the committee to react.
"It is the beginning … let the inquiry be complete. If the land was for defence and allotted for Kargil widows, then it is a very serious thing. We will see the committee report and will definitely react after we go into the root of it," said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar.
The NCP said no action is planned against state Home Minister R.R. Patil, whose name also figured in the scam.
"Everybody knows about the honesty and transparency of R.R. Patil that is beyond an iota of doubt. There is no question of any action or effect of this removal of Chavan on him," said D.P. Tripathi, NCP spokesperson.
The Congress Tuesday also accepted the resignation of Suresh Kalmadi as secretary of the Congress Parliamentary Party. There have been allegations of corruption against Kalmadi, chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.
"That Kalmadi has offered his resignation should stand alone. That should not connect with Congress at all," party spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan told a private new channel.(IANS)