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Issue No.: 560 | February 2014

The Adarsh Riddle

Ashok Karnik
The Adarsh Housing Society scam that started in 2002 is a never ending saga of deceit. What started as suspected theft of defence land in Mumbai went on unraveling to disclose all and mighty dipping their hands in the till of Mumbai housing. Every one who could, made a grab for a flat by giving the society some concession or other at a price (of a flat). The list of its members is a who’s who of Ministers’ relatives and Mantralaya bureaucrats. The housing society which was meant for the Kargil heroes ended up housing relatives of babus who handled the society’s file in the corridors of power. There were benami owners, favourites of Ministers but very few deserving members as the flat prices were out of reach of Kargil heroes. The Maharashtra Government appointed an Inquiry Commission to douse the initial fire, hoping that all would be forgotten soon. Instead, the Commission found that there were 22 benami owners, 28 ineligible members, 12 senior bureaucrats had dispensed favours and 4 former CMs and two Ministers had a dubious role to play. With this kind of indictment, the State Government decided to reject the report. This created a furore in the Assembly and the Congress was as usual having to defend the indefensible.

In stepped Rahul Gandhi (belatedly) in his persona of an anti-corruption crusader and declared that it was wrong to reject the report. The State Government went into a spin and reconsidered the report.  However, it played a sleight of hand. It decided to initiate action against the indicted bureaucrats but found that the indicted ex-CMs and Ministers had not indulged in any qui pro quo; they were absolved of all guilt. The only ex-CM who was to be prosecuted, Ashok Chavan, has been saved with the Governor refusing permission to prosecute him. In the convoluted morality of the Congress, Rahul Gandhi should now be happy that corruption is being eradicated! This kind of legalistic arrogance and jugglery has been the bane of the Congress. Prithviraj Chavan, CM, who had a clean image, has lost his aura in the process. To bring further ridicule to the Government, Chavan left the CBI to take action against the delinquent officials forgetting that his Government has gone to Court challenging the jurisdiction of the CBI in the Adarsh case. His Government has argued that since the Adarsh land does not belong to the Ministry of Defence, CBI has no role to play in the investigation. The Adarsh scam will continue to be an albatross around the Government’s neck.

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