Decision on Chavan likely after AICC meet

After a meeting with Defence Minister A.K. Antony late on Sunday evening, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told journalists that they would require more time to go through the documents relating to the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society controversy, to be able to present a report to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Following the offer of resignation from Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Ms. Gandhi had set up the Mukherjee-Antony committee to probe his alleged complicity in the scam.

Party sources said Mr. Mukherjee's statement indicated that a resolution of the Maharashtra crisis would take a bit longer — probably after the all-important AICC meeting scheduled for Tuesday is completed, as the leadership does not want the Chavan affair to overshadow a key organisational meeting.

Meanwhile, as names of several Maharashtra politicians — including three former chief ministers — surfaced as being associated with the controversy in Mumbai, Mr. Chavan stayed on in Delhi, as he is expected to meet the two senior leaders to present his case.

On Sunday, Mr. Chavan mounted a stout defence of his position personally and through his associates. They have been telling the media that his three predecessors, Narayan Rane, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Vilasrao Deshmukh, not only expedited the Adarsh Housing Society files, but that their “friends” too have flats in the 31-storey high rise. This has muddied the waters considerably, and complicated the situation further, but Mr. Chavan's critics say this could backfire on him as well.

For the Congress, the controversy has snowballed into a political crisis, with the BJP-Shiv Sena combine now asking for the resignation of the entire Maharashtra Cabinet, and announcing its intention to meet the Governor on Monday to make this plea. Then there is the AICC meeting. U.S. President Barack Obama is due in Mumbai next weekend, followed by the commencement of the winter session of Parliament, for which the Opposition is sharpening its knives.