Mumbai : Maharashtra Congress chief Manikrao Thakre on Friday termed the party leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s controversial statement on Adarsh Society scam and his predecessors in the office as “unfortunate”. “No case has been made out against former Chief Ministers Ashok Chavan, Sushil Kumar Shinde and the late Vilasrao Deshmukh in the Adarsh case. The statement – had he (Prithviraj Chavan) initiated action against them, the party would have been decimated in the state — is unwarranted,” Thakre said here. “A wrong message was sent out and it put a question mark on the party ahead of the polling in the crucial Assembly elections,” Thakre added.

Even though Chavan later regretted his statement, saying that it was part of an off-the-record conversation, Thakre said he should not have made the statement in the first place.

The state Congress chief also dismissed the exit polls’ prediction that BJP would emerge as the single largest party. “We are confident that our performance will be good,” he said. To a question on NCP leader Praful Patel’s statement that his party will play a crucial role in the formation of the next government in Maharashtra, Thakre said NCP’s stand had always been suspect.

When asked if the Congress’s campaign was lacklustre compared to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rallies in the state, Thakre said even in 2009 Modi had campaigned in the state but it made no difference.

In Delhi, Congress downplayed the issue, saying that the former Maharashtra Chief Minister has already given an explanation. “Chavan has made it clear that he never said anything of this sort of sending them to jail. He has clarified it in a statement,” party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters at the AICC briefing here. A party functionary, speaking on the condition of anonymity, however, said that it was a “blunder” and “absolutely unnecessary” for Chavan to give an interview like this before the voting for the Assembly polls

On the day the interview had appeared in the newspaper, a senior Congress leader had said that Chavan’s remarks were an attempt to find excuses for the near certain defeat of the party under his leadership in Maharashtra in the Assembly polls.

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