No law bars Ashok Chavan from contesting: Sonia Gandhi


Congress president Sonia Gandhi defended her party’s decision to field former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan in the Lok Sabha polls despite corruption charges against him.

“As far as we know, Chavan is not barred from contesting the election by any law,” Mrs. Gandhi told in New Delhi at an event where her party’s manifesto was released.

Mr. Chavan, who was indicted by an inquiry panel that investigated the Adarsh scam in Mumbai in December last year, is the Congress candidate from Nanded. He had to resign as chief minister in 2010 after allegations against him surfaced.

Attacking the party over the decision, the main opposition party the BJP challenged Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to explain how his party has nominated Mr. Chavan. “We have answered questions on corruption. Now let Shri Rahul Gandhi, who had promised zero tolerance on corruption, answer why this is being accommodated,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Speaking in his defence, Mr. Chavan told that all allegations against him in the Adarsh housing society scam are irrelevant. “My conscience is clear, I have done no wrong. I have not been convicted or barred from contesting elections,” he said.

The Congress included Mr. Chavan in its sixth list of candidates released last evening.

In December last year, a report of a two-member commission headed by retired high court judge JA Patil indicted several politicians including three former Chief Ministers – Mr. Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde – for “blatant violations” of statutory provisions. It said Mr. Chavan and other bureaucrats gave permissions and clearances and it was a quid pro quo.