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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Politics Of Corruption: The Mystery Of The Adarsh Scam!

Nagpur: The final Report of the Two-member Inquiry Commission appointed in January, 2011 to look into the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society scam was tabled in Maharashtra Legislature by a hesitant Government yesterday. The Report names three ex-Chief Ministers of Maharashtra in same roles, one former CM in the role of revenue minister and two existing cabinet ministers in the roles of urban development ministers for giving political patronage to the Adarsh society in Mumbai. It names about twenty top existing and retired bureaucrats for illegal ownership of flats, nepotism and favouritism, and blatant violation of housing rules. Citing the classic saying that ' a man needs just five and half feet of land finally' the Report terms the Adarsh as a tale of absolute greed and corruption and the most shameful act for a progressive state like Maharashtra.

The high drama and suspense leading to tabling the Report started, in fact, from 19th of April, 2013 when the Commission had submitted its final Report to Maharashtra Government. Pressure had been mounting on the Government since then to table the Report in Legislature. Opposition political parties had been keeping no stone unturned to corner the Government at every opportunity. The Government had avoided the burden saying it needed time to prepare an action taken report. The winter session of Maharashtra began on 9th of this month-a day after main Opposition BJP had spectacular election victories in four states. This single fact made the Opposition emboldened and extremely attacking from the beginning.

During the session Bombay High Court issued a directive to Maharashtra Government to present the Report positively in this session. BJP claimed credit for this saying one of its party-men moved the PIL in the High Court. Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan assured that the Report would in fact be tabled during this Nagpur session. Opposition parties alleged that the Report would be kept for the last day so that discussion could not be initiated.

Meantime in another twist to the Adarsh story Maharashtra Governor denied CBI permission to prosecute Ashok Chavan-one of the tainted ex-Chief Ministers in the Adarsh scam. Agitated Opposition members smelt conspiracy in this too.

On the final day when tabling of the Report was expected any time the confusion got compounded by one more twist. Around noon news of Maharashtra Cabinet rejecting the Adarsh Report in a special morning meeting in Nagpur was raging across news channels. Out efforts to confirm this from CMO office failed as officials confirmed only the meeting and not the decision which they said would be announced during the tabling of the Report.

However, the ambiguity prevailed even after the winter Session concluded. Even as the Speakers in both houses of Maharashtra Legislature continued to disallow discussion on the Report leading to repeated adjournments the Government still did not spell out why it had rejected the Report or if rejected at at all. Much later it was more or less revealed in the four-line Action Taken Report submitted in the house that said the Government had rejected the Report. Opposition protests reached huge dimensions as angry members tore up the Report outside the assembly house. They charged that the Government was trying to protect its corrupt Ministers and top bureaucrats. The Opposition had in fact been relentless in its fight against former and present tainted Cabinet Ministers disrupting the house for days as the Anti Corruption Lokpal Bill was debated and passed by the Indian Parliament, with BJP supporting.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, in his press conference immediately after the Maharashtra Legislature got adjourned till Budget Session in Mumbai from 24th February, 2014, decided to keep mum on possible reasons for rejecting the Report saying it would be discussed at the appropriate time. Prithviraj Chavan has been known for integrity and clean image. Now Opposition parties are raising serious questions on him while Congress party-men continue to repose faith in his decision.

Knowledgeable sources offer the argument that since the Maharashtra Governor refused permission to CBI to prosecute Ashok Chavan the Cabinet perhaps found it inappropriate to accept the Report. Whatever, the mystery around the Adarsh scam only deepens at this moment. The story looks far from being a closed chapter with the anti corruption spirit engulfing the country in a most positive and unprecedented way. And of course, with the General Elections-2014 just round the corner.
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