Chavan not debarred from elections, says Sonia Gandhi

Even as the Opposition attacked the Congress for giving a ticket to former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan who has been charge-sheeted in the Adarsh scam, a combative Mr. Chavan said the BJP had “no moral right to talk about corruption or my case”.

“They are pointing to my case but what about their decision to field B.S. Yeddyurappa and B. Sriramulu from Karnataka? The BJP does one thing in Karnataka and says another thing in Maharashtra,” Mr. Chavan said in an interview to The Hindu shortly after filing his nomination in Nanded.

Mr. Chavan’s candidature was delayed due to opposition from a section of the party, which feared the impact it would have on the party’s image. When asked about the differences within the party, Mr. Chavan said, “The party is fully behind me. There is no divide. Congress president Sonia Gandhi came to the logical conclusion that I had been targeted.”

Mr. Chavan’s name was announced shortly after the party denied a ticket to Pune MP Suresh Kalmadi, who is accused of corruption in the CWG scam. However, Mr. Chavan refused to respond when asked why his case was different. “I don’t want to comment on Mr. Kalmadi’s case,” he said.

“Stale news”

“The Adarsh case is stale news in Maharashtra. Let my opponents say what they want. The Congress did very well in the local body elections in my constituency even after the Adarsh case,” Mr. Chavan told The Hindu.

Mr. Chavan, who was named as the Congress candidate from Nanded shortly after the party denied a ticket to Pune MP Suresh Kalmadi, refused to respond on why his case was different. “I don’t want to comment on Mr. Kalmadi’s case,” he said.

Insisting he had done no wrong, Mr. Chavan said, “I have been targeted by my political opponents and a section of the media.”

The Adarsh Commission of Inquiry had indicted Mr. Chavan for extending favours to the building in exchange for flats for his relatives. Defending himself, Mr. Chavan said, “The findings of the commission were only partially reported by the media. On several crucial issues for which I had been targeted, they found no illegality.”

Mr. Chavan also faces charges of generating “paid news” arising from allegedly undeclared expenses for media coverage in the 2009 Assembly polls.

“This issue has almost been resolved. We have filed petitions in the High Court and Supreme Court on this matter,” Mr. Chavan said.