Former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan on Sunday claimed that the Election Commission had not held him guilty in connection with the alleged “paid news” expenses made during the 2009 Assembly polls. He said that the expenses categorise as “paid news” have been dismissed as funds spent for the Indian National Congress (INC) party campaign where development works of the government headed by him were highlighted.
Speaking to The Indian Express over telephone from Nanded (Marathwada) he said, “The Election Commission has sent me a showcause notice for an advertisement of Rs 16,924 which remained unaccounted in my election expenditure return filing.” Chavan, who is now a Lok Sabha MP, said, “The stated amount was incurred by someone who did not even seek my consent.” “The Election Commission has asked me to explain why this amount does not reflect in the poll expenditure returns and has given me 20 days to file the reply,” he said.
Highlighting Para 84 on Page 78 of the EC notice he said, “The issue of paid news is almost over now. The EC has categorically stated that the expenditure (paid news charges) was for the campaign undertaken by the Indian National Congress.”
The state Congress leaders, however, refused to comment on the development saying they would have to look into the details of the EC notice. Top state Congress leaders said, “Unless the entire development leads to disqualification of Chavan there is nothing to worry. As these issues can be interpreted in many ways.”
However, the party believes the EC decision after 20 days will be important. The recurring development does not bode well for Chavan who was looking forward to a proactive role in the Assembly polls in October 2014.
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Meanwhile, lauding the EC for the decision, state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said, “Narendra Modi worked for a Congress-free government at the Centre, now EC is ensuring corruption-free elections.”