Congress leader Ashok Chavan, who had to resign as the chief minister of Maharashtra following allegations of wrongdoings in Adarsh Society scam, returned to the centre stage of state as he shared the dais with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi at a rally in Aurangabad on Wednesday.
He was seen exchanging greetings and warm handshake with Rahul before occupying a seat next to him. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was also present.
While Congress sources said the public appearance of Chavan with Rahul signaled the party’s decision to forget Adarsh scam ahead of the elections, many within the ruling Congress-NCP alliance were taken aback by the development.
About three months ago, Rahul had publicly rebuked the state cabinet’s decision to reject the Adarsh panel report and said that he didn’t agree with it.
Subsequently, the state government reversed its decision and accepted the recomendations of the panel.
“Having Ashok on the dais with Rahul is perceived in the state Congress as a tactical shift to re-look the alleged role of Ashok Chavan in Adarsh (case) more objectively,” said a senior party leader. Over the last few months, both state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre and general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Mohan Prakash have impressed upon the leadership that the former CM cannot be kept out of campaigning. A highly-placed source in the state unit said, “The party has recommended Ashok Chavan’s candidature to the central screening committee for Nanded seat.”
The Opposition, however, did not lose an opportunity to criticise the Congress. State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said, “This exposes the double standards of Congress leadership, both at Centre and state on corruption. If Rahul is willing to forget the Adarsh scam, it shows power politics assumes more significant than corruption.”