Questions Maharashtra government’s rejection of panel report

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday publicly asked the Maharashtra government to “reconsider” its rejection of a judicial commission’s report on the Adarsh housing scandal that has indicted four of the party’s former Chief Ministers, along with a host of NCP, BJP and Shiv Sena leaders.

Mr. Gandhi’s response came at a press conference called to disseminate the decisions taken at a meeting of Congress’s Chief Ministers on corruption and price rise.

“I have told the Maharashtra Chief Minister my opinion: there is no question of protecting anyone,” Mr. Gandhi said when asked whether the report had been rejected to protect the former Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan.

Aside from Mr. Chavan, the report indicts Sushilkumar Shinde, who is now the Home Minister, the late Vilasrao Deshmukh and Shivajirao Nilangekar Patil.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who was present when Mr. Gandhi made the remark, told journalists: “I will consult my Cabinet colleagues and get back to you.”

Party sources said the issue was raised at the meeting by a general secretary. The Maharashtra Chief Minister had responded by saying he would discuss it separately with Mr. Gandhi.

Mr. Gandhi’s comment was of a piece with one of the five decisions taken on Friday, that all Congress-ruled States should enact by February 28, 2014 a Lok Ayukta Act in line with the just enacted Lokpal Act for the Centre.

He also stressed that if other political parties were serious about fighting corruption, they must cooperate with the UPA government and pass other pending anti-corruption bills, including one on Whistleblowers, at a special session.

“Only one party”, Mr. Gandhi said, “is talking about creating a framework that can fight corruption and that is the Congress. When we say let us have a session and pass all the [anti-graft] bills sitting in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, there is a dead silence. I don’t hear anything from the other side.”

Mr. Gandhi’s comments prompted the BJP in Maharashtra immediately to call for the resignation of Mr. Chavan.