New Delhi: In an obvious attempt to get a load off his chest, former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has made a bunch of confessional statements in a newspaper interview, on the eve of polling for the state assembly elections.
Considering that he has been the face of a campaign that stresses on clean governance, the statements amount to self-goals and bare the divide between him and other Congress leaders as well as the former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar.
It is clear that left to himself, Chavan would have put three former chief ministers — the late Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Ashok Chavan — behind bars for their respective roles in the Adarsh scam. He said, ‘‘If I had taken action against them, the party would have been decimated in Maharashtra. We could not shed them. If I had sent them to jail, it would have hit the party organisation — this was a major response. The party would have
split — nobody articulated that openly then. Neither could I.”
On his deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, he said, ‘‘I could have stopped him from rejoining. But it was a coalition government. I had some compulsions. I could not have put my foot down. The government would have come down at that moment.
I was also the leader of the alliance. But I did not give Ajit Pawar any clean chit — he gave himself the clean chit. Short of sacking Ajit Pawar, I did everything. But sacking him would have brought down the government.”
Both these observations, confirm the widely held impression in political circles that Chavan, who was parachuted into the state in the wake of the Adarsh scam, had no working relationship with senior party leaders and the alliance partners.
In fact, he wanted to have a go at them and found his hands tied.
Yet another significant comment from Chavan indicating that he has almost conceded defeat before Wednesday’s polling is the fulsome praise that he has showered on BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis. ‘‘Fadnavis is an outstanding parliamentarian — a good person. He does not have Eknath Khadse’s ministerial experience but he is a good person and will make a competent chief minister if the BJP comes to power,” he said. This also shows that Chavan is reconciled to the idea of a defeat for the Congress.
The Congress, however, avoided any comment on Chavan’s observations. “I have not seen the interview, so I cannot comment on it,” said party spokesperson Ajoy Kumar even as the subject was avidly discussed among party general secretaries at the headquarters.
“As you sow, so shall you reap, Chavan was sent as a clean man, with a mandate to deal strongly with corruption in the state, but now he is telling us that his hands were tied,” quipped a senior general secretary.