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Chavan saves Cong face but may lose candidature if found guilty in paid news case
Ashok Chavan may have bagged one of the only two seats that the Congress has won from Maharashtra, but two swords continue to dangle over his head. While he is yet to be completely absolved in the Adarsh housing scam, he also faces disqualification if the charges of furnishing incorrect accounts of his poll expenses during the 2009 Assembly elections are proved right.
The Election Commission of India has asked him to appear for a hearing in the matter.
Chavan’s victory comes at a time when the seat count of Congress in Maharashtra has plummeted from 17 in the 2009 polls to a dismal two. He defeated BJP’s D B Patil by over 80,000 votes. Hingoli candidate Rajeev Satav is the only other Congress nominee to register a win this time.
Former CM Chavan, 55, is currently an MLA from Bhokar in Nanded, which has been the bastion of the Congress since the time of his father Shankarrao Chavan. The family is known to be a loyalist of the Gandhis.
Chavan and 12 others had been booked under Section 120 (B) of the IPC and under various Sections of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act in connection with the Adarsh Housing Society Scam in 2011. In March this year, the CBI filed a petition in the Bombay High Court urging it to delete Chavan’s name from the FIR. The petition had been quashed by a special CBI court in Mumbai earlier. The HC will now hear the matter in June.
Chavan, however, is facing a more serious charge that could even lead to his disqualification as a candidate — of giving incorrect accounts of his poll expenses during the 2009 Assembly elections.
Dr Madhavrao Kinhalkar, who had lost to Chavan in the polls and had filed the compliant with Election Commission, said: “Chavan had approached the court with a claim that the EC had no jurisdiction on the issue. But that claim has been quashed. He has been asked to appear before the EC on May 23, and if found guilty he may be disqualified for three years — from all types of representations, including Lok Sabha.”
Kinhalkar has said in his submission to the EC that expenditure sheets submitted to the returning officer did not account for the money spent on “paid news”.
A social worker from Nanded said: “In spite of the Adarsh case, Chavan was given the ticket from Nanded because Congress desperately wanted its waning base in Marathwada not to go down further in the absence of late Vilasrao Deshmukh. Now, out of eight seats in Marathwada region, Congress has won two as against three in the last elections. The Assembly polls continued…