100% confident I will be proved innocent: Ashok Chavan

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Mumbai:  After his resignation as Maharashtra Chief Minister was accepted this morning by Sonia Gandhi, Ashok Chavan addressed the press in Mumbai to stress that he did not use his public office to unfair advantage in the Adarsh Society scam. (Read: Congress in pink-slip mode, Chavan and Kalmadi sacked)

He said his party has "high moral values", and that he is "100% certain that he will be proved innocent" by different inquiries into his role in the controversy. (Read: Congress has high moral values: Ashok Chavan | Watch)

Chavan's resignation was accepted "pending full inquiry" by the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, hours before the Winter Session of Parliament began. The party then accepted the resignation of another controversial leader, Suresh Kalmadi, from his post as Congress Parliamentary Party secretary.  As the man in charge of organizing the Commonwealth Games, Kalmadi and the deals he okayed have become totemic of financial violations.

The BJP intended to use the Adarsh scam and the seemingly-ubiquitous corruption in the Commonwealth Games to attack the government. (Read: Governor statement on Chavan resignation) | (Read: Front-runners for Maharashtra Chief Minister)

"In politics there are lots of ups and downs," said Chavan, saying that he does not see his current circumstances as a setback. He also said that Sonia Gandhi has not lost her confidence in him.

Investigations by the media suggest that politicians, retired Army officers and senior bureaucrats colluded to corner flats in a building in Colaba that was meant to provide discounted flats to war widows and veterans. Chavan admitted earlier this month that three of his relatives were allotted flats in the high-rise named Adarsh.

Adarsh was built without required environmental clearances. Two months ago, the Navy and Army also objected to the building on the grounds that it will give occupants a clear view of defence installations along Mumbai's coast. (Read: Don't ask questions, Army was told)

Chavan was Revenue Minister when the Adarsh Society was sanctioned special benefits - he sanctioned its expansion to allow close to 30 additional flats by gifting to the building land reserved next door for a bus depot. Chavan was appointed Chief Minister in December 2008 after Vilasrao Deshmukh resigned after Mumbai's 26/11 terror attacks. (Read: Vilasrao Deshmukh gave massive sops for Adarsh Society | How Maharashtra government cashed in on Kargil)

Chavan said that his government did not make any mistakes in permitting the construction. "In public life, one has to come clean on a number of things...for all the decisions taken by my predecessors and me, let the investigation be completed." 

Defence Minister AK Antony has ordered a CBI inquiry to determine the role of any Army officers who may have acted improperly either in sanctioning the building (several officers who okayed the building went on to get Adarsh flats). (Read: Antony recommends CBI probe into Adarsh scam)

Antony, along with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, has been appointed by the Congress to  conduct a formal inquiry into the Adarsh scam, with special focus on Chavan's alleged role.  Mukherjee, like Chavan, said that the fact that the resignation has been accepted  does not mean that the party believes Chavan is guilty.
 
"I am not going to make a value judgement. It was not a regular inquiry commission. Nothing like that. We went on certain aspects. Political decisions are taken many times on perception and based on certain facts," he said. (Watch: Pranab indicates Chavan resignation based on perception)

Front-runners for Maharashtra Chief Minister:

Prithivraj Chavan, Minister of State, Prime Minister's Office.

ADVANTAGES: Chavan is the chief contender. He has no links to the Adarsh housing scam that saw Chavan topple and has had the names of many senior leaders crop up. Chavan has a clean Image and is close to the Congress high command

DISADVANTAGES: He is combative with ally Nationalist Congress Party, which is part of the government in Maharashtra. Also, he does not have a mass base.

Sushilkumar Shinde, Union Power Minister

ADVANTAGES: Shinde is a former Chief Minister and is welll-versed in Maharashtra politics.

DISADVANTAGES: Adarsh Society got fake environmental clearance and 51 extra flats during Shinde's tenure; One of his aides reportedly has a flat in the Adarsh Housing Society. Shinde has defends hinslf saying, "I own no benami property. When I was CM I signed many files. This happened to be one.''

Another disadvantage is that as a Dalit face Shinde is not acceptable to the Maratha lobby.

Balasaheb Vikhe Patil, Maharashtra Congress leader

ADVANTAGES: He is an experienced administrator, has a strong mass base in Ahmednagar. That he has been part of the union cabinet is also seen as an advantage.

DISADVANTAGES: He had switched to the Shiv Sena for a while and was a minister in the NDA Cabinet.

Balasaheb Thorat, Maharashtra School Education Minister

ADVANTAGES: Thorat is a Congress loyalist and has a clean image

DISADVANTAGES: He is too low profile

Watch: BJP on Chavan, Kalmadi sacking 


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