Pranab, Antony meet Sonia; discuss Chavan’s fate

Pranab, Antony meet Sonia; discuss Chavan’s fate

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday held consultations with senior party leaders on the fate of Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan who has been embroiled in a upscale housing society scam in Mumbai.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, defence minister A K Antony and senior party leader Ahmed Patel met Gandhi in New Delhi and are understood to have discussed the matter.

The meeting took place even as the embattled chief minister left for Mumbai early this morning.

Talk in the political circles was that Chavan had stayed put in the capital to meet Mukherjee who returned here late last evening from West Bengal.

Environment minister Jairam Ramesh, whose ministry’s clearance was also an issue in the matter, also joined the meeting. The parleys come a day ahead of the AICC meeting here.

Chavan had offered to resign on Saturday during a meeting with Gandhi in connection with the controversial Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society which was supposedly meant for widows and veterans of the Kargil war.

Gandhi had asked Mukherjee and Antony, who is also incharge of party affairs in Maharashtra, to look into the matter and submit a report.

On his return from Kolkata, Mukherjee had a meeting with Antony last night and had said that he would require some more time to go through the documents related to the alleged scam.

“I will require more time to go through the papers and, therefore, it would not be possible for me or Mr Antony to say anything right now," Mukherjee had said.

There were reports that more Congress and NCP leaders including three former Maharashtra chief ministers - union heavy industry minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, union power minister Sushilkumar Shinde and current revenue minister Narayan Rane - and Maharashtra minister Ajit Pawar, nephew of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, had links with the controversial upscale project.

Deshmukh, Rane and Pawar denied the allegations of any links, saying they had not recommended any cases for allotment of flats in the 31-storey housing complex which stands on the land supposed to be meant for Kargil war heroes and widows while Shinde accused the media of making a hue and cry over the issue.

Questions were also being raised in the chief minister’s camp as how action can be taken against Chavan on the Adarsh issue when other Congress leaders from Maharashtra were also allegedly involved.