New Delhi: After the BJP challenged Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to explain how his party has nominated Ashok Chavan to contest general elections from Nanded in Maharashtra, the former Chief Minister spoke out in his defence and claimed the allegations against him in the Adarsh housing society scam are irrelevant.
"My conscience is clear, I have done no wrong. I have not been convicted or barred from contesting elections," he told NDTV.
In its sixth list of candidates released last evening, the Congress included Mr Chavan, who was indicted by an inquiry panel that investigated the Adarsh scam in Mumbai in December last year. Mr Chavan had to resign as chief minister because of the allegations he faced. (Congress gives ticket to Ashok Chavan; Madhusudan Mistry to take on Narendra Modi)
The BJP's Nirmala Sitharaman however sought to remind Mr Gandhi that he had promised zero-tolerance of corruption while launching his campaign for the general elections. "We have answered questions on corruption. Now let Shri Rahul Gandhi, who had promised zero tolerance on corruption, answer why this is being accommodated." (Watch video)
Responding to a volley of questions about Mr Chavan's nomination yesterday as he announced the party's sixth list, Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken said, "No court or Election Commission has barred Ashok Chavan from contesting polls. His case is different from that of Suresh Kalmadi. While Kalmadi has been chargesheeted, court has not taken cognisance of the case against Chavan". (Adarsh Scam: Court rejects CBI's plea to drop Ashok Chavan's name as accused)
Last week, the Congress had denied renomination to Mr Kalmadi, the sitting MP from Pune, because of the graft charges against him in the conduct of the Commonwealth Games in 2010, of which he was Organising Committee chairman.
The report of the two-member commission headed by retired high court judge JA Patil indicted several politicians including three former Chief Ministers - Mr Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde - for "blatant violations" of statutory provisions.
It said Mr Chavan and other bureaucrats gave permissions and clearances and it was a quid pro quo. It named his three relatives and found them ineligible along with 25 other members of 102.
The Adarsh Housing Society is a 31-story building in Colaba in South Mumbai whose apartments were intended for war veterans and widows, but were allegedly grabbed by politicians, defence officers and bureaucrats.