Three months after he trashed the Union Cabinets decision to bring an ordinance on convicted MPs and MLAs,Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday disapproved of Maharashtra Cabinets decision to reject a judicial commissions report on the Adarsh housing scandal and demanded its reconsideration.
This came shortly after a meeting of Congress chief ministers saw senior party leaders denouncing the Congress governments decision citing public perception about the partys stance on corruption.
Personally,I dont agree with that decision. They (Maharashtra government) should reconsider that, Gandhi said in response to a query at a press conference at the party headquarters in the presence of Congress CMs including Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
There is no question of protecting anybody. They should reconsider, he said when he was asked if the Congress was trying to protect party leaders who were allegedly involved in the scam.
Chavan said he would discuss the issue (of reconsideration) with his Cabinet colleagues.
Asked if he would consider bringing a fresh action taken report (ATR) on the commissions report,he told The Indian Express,I have not decided the next course of action yet. I will have to first consult my Cabinet colleagues.
The Maharashtra government had rejected the J A Patel Commission report on the Adarsh scam which had indicted,among others,several former Chief Ministers including Sushil Kumar Shinde,the present Union Home Minister who was present at the meeting of the CMs when the issue was discussed.
Incidentally,Gandhi kept quiet at the meeting when senior leaders questioned the Maharashtra decision.
The issue was raised by AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik,MP from Maharashtra,who was learnt to have said,We are discussing public perception here but we rejected the report of the Adarsh Commission. Chavan said he could not explain the reasons for the rejection of report in such a large gathering (of CMs and party office-bearers) and would explain it to the Congress vice-president later.
At this stage,AICC general secretary Shakeel Ahmed was learnt to have interjected,You can explain it to Rahulji and a few others,but what about 1.2 billion people? What about their perception?
Ahmed later claimed he had not spoken at the meeting.
After the meeting ended,Chavan had a one-on-one meeting with Gandhi.
It is learnt that he explained how the entire Cabinet had vehemently sought the rejection of the report. Chavan was also said to have argued that he could not have vetoed the consensus decision given that coalition partner NCP was also involved.
Gandhis disapproval of the Maharashtra governments decision came three days after party MP and close associate Milind Deora had questioned it saying that the report should be investigated,answered and not hushed.
On Friday,Gandhi declared that a decision was taken at the CMs meeting to set up Lokayuktas by February 28 next year in all party-ruled states as per the Lokpal Act.
Seeking to take a high moral ground on the issue of corruption that has bedevilled the UPA government,Gandhi said,Everyone seems to be only talking about corruption but not doing anything. I see only one party wanting to do something about fighting corruption. I have said that if you want to fight corruption,there is an anti-corruption framework in the form of some bills lying with Parliament,ready to be passed. Let us enact those laws. Let us have a special session of Parliament and pass those laws.
I told them (Opposition) lets set up this framework by passing the laws,but I only heard silence from the other side. I did not hear yes. I only hear big speeches about fighting corruption again and again and again and again. But nothing more. Talking about corruption has become a fashion.The government and the Opposition should together pass those bills in the LS and the RS, he said.
I dont see states ruled by the Opposition party setting up Lokayuktas. We want a framework but we are blocked in Parliament. If they (Opposition) are serious,let us stop talking and start acting. We are dead serious (about fighting corruption), he said,adding that the country will benefit hugely if a proper framework to fight corruption is put in place.