Former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan tells Shubhangi Khapre that there is a ‘deliberate campaign’ to ‘tarnish’ his image by raising the Adarsh case. Excerpts:
Narendra Modi campaigned in Nanded and raised the Adarsh issue. What will be its impact?
There is a definite strategy adopted by Modi’s poll managers to pick on some important seats and politicians to malign their image. But I don’t think that will work in Nanded as I will be judged by my overall performance, political career, and goodwill for my father S B Chavan.
Is corruption an issue in the 2014 elections?
Yes, corruption is an issue and concerns people. There is no denying that irrespective of polls, nobody can justify corruption. I believe we cannot lower our guard in fighting corruption. This is reflected in the Congress manifesto also.
Do you think Congress president Sonia Gandhi took a bold stand by rehabilitating you in politics?
I think the decision was taken based on the public pressure in Nanded. Everybody was of the opinion that I should contest from Nanded. I don’t see it as rehabilitation as I am already an MLA. But overall, it was felt I should represent the party in Delhi.
Is Congress taking a gamble in fielding an “Adarsh-tainted” politician?
I think there is a deliberate campaign to tarnish my image. As far as I am concerned, I have done no wrong in the Adarsh case. The CBI has already stated in court that I have being cleared. I don’t want to comment further on the legal process which is still underway. Moreover, what moral right does the BJP have to speak on corruption when they have the Yeddyurappas and Reddy brothers. The Congress is committed to fighting corruption.
Do you see Adarsh as a setback in your career?
I have always said there was a conspiracy to malign my image using Adarsh. In the last three-and-a-half years, I have learnt lessons from Adarsh. I see it as an accident. It has taught me to be cautious so as to avoid further accidents.
Is the Modi factor going to work against Congress?
The Modi factor is a hype created through social media. I don’t see how the BJP is going to attain its Mission 272-plus when it is contesting only 337-odd seats. Unless they want us to believe they will sweep the polls, which is unlikely. Let us not forget a lot will depend on its allies, who are not very comfortable with Modi’s projection as PM.
What are the challenges before the Congress?
I admit we have not been able to aggressively highlight our achievements. But look at all the major reforms ushered by the UPA government at the Centre and in Maharashtra… food security act, Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayi Yojna, RTI… These are the issues which will work in rural and urban areas for Congress.