Three years after the Adarsh Housing Society scam in Mumbai rocked Indian politics and cost him his job, the former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has bounced back as the Congress candidate in Nanded. “That [Adarsh scam] was an accident. Accidents do happen, but my job from now on is to work carefully,” he told The Hindu.
A two-member judicial commission found that Mr. Chavan’s relatives were given three flats in return for his signing Adarsh-related papers. Apart from this, Mr Chavan faces charges of “paid news” related to alleged undeclared expenses for media coverage of the 2009 Assembly polls. The issue is before the Supreme Court.
But “he projected himself as the only person who brought development to Nanded and was successful in convincing the people that his resignation from the CM’s post stopped further development in the region,” says Adinath Ingole, who teaches political Science at Guru Buddhiswami College at Purna, near here.
Though many voters have understood the gravity of the Adarsh scam, for a majority it remains a matter of “just a few flats,” says Mr. Ingole.
The candidature of Mr. Ashok Chavan — son of the former Chief Minister and Union Home Minister, the late Shankarrao Chavan — was declared at the very last moment. However, by then, he had already toured the Lok Sabha constituency to revive old contacts.
The scattered opposition only seems to be helping Mr. Chavan. The Bharatiya Janata Party is banking on the momentum created by Narendra Modi’s massive rally in Nanded a few weeks ago.
D. B. Patil, a former Nationalist Congress Party member, got BJP ticket a week after he joined the party. Ironically, before joining the NCP, he had been elected from Nanded on BJP ticket in 2004.
“There’s a Modi wave in the country. I am campaigning for Hindutva and against his [Ashok Chavan’s] corruption,” Mr. Patil told The Hindu, claiming that the Adarsh scam was still a major issue.
The Aam Aadmi Party candidate, Narendrasingh Granthi’s campaign doesn’t seem to have quite taken off.
In 2009, the Congress candidate Bhaskarrao Khatgaonkar, brother-in-law of Ashok Chavan, won the Nanded seat with ease. But party functionaries have cautioned Mr. Chavan against taking the seat for granted, considering the response to Mr. Modi’s rally. Sensing the need, Mr. Chavan has settled his disputes with former political foes like Independent MLA, Prataprao Patil-Chikhlikar.
A social activist from Nanded, Dr. Shivdas Hamand, said that after the death of the former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Mr. Chavan was being projected as the leader of the entire Marathwada region. “That image overpowers the allegations levelled against him,” he said.