New Delhi: Congress High Command Tuesday moved into cut any further loss of face by removing Ashok Chavan as Maharashtra Chief Minister and Suresh Kalmadi as secretary of the Congress Parliamentary Party in the wake of embarrassing scams allegedly involving them.
Hours before the start of what is expected to be a stormy session of Parliament, Congress General Secretary Janardhan Dwivedi announced that Chavan has been asked by party chief Sonia Gandhi to step down.
“Pending enquiry, his (Chavan’s) offer of resignation has been accepted. He has been asked to tender his resignation to Governor (K Sankaranarayanan),” he said in a brief statement.
Later, Chavan met Governor Sankaranarayanan to tender his resignation. The Governor accepted his resignation and asked him to continue in the post till further arrangements are made.
Dwivedi also announced that the resignation of Kalmadi, who is in the eye of a storm following allegations of corruption in the Commonwealth Games, as Secretary of the Congress Parliamentary Party has been accepted with immediate effect. Earlier, Kalmadi, who was blamed for the messy preparations for the October Games, was asked to resign. He is a Lok Sabha member from Pune.
A decision on Chavan’s resignation in the wake of embarrassing revelations that three of his relatives owned flats in the Adrash Housing Society was pending for the last 10 days in view of the high-profile visit of US President Barack Obama to Mumbai.
The party did not want any political disturbance in the state during his visit.
51-year-old Chavan had on October 30 offered to resign during a meeting with Gandhi after it emerged that his mother-in-law and two other relatives owned flats in the housing society, which was originally meant for Kargil war heroes and widows.
Gandhi decided to remove Chavan even before senior party leaders Pranab Mukherjee and AK Antony could submit a report on the housing scam.
Both the leaders will be in Mumbai today to attend the Congress Legislature Party meeting as central observers.
Meanwhile, Antony in his capacity as the Defence Minister has also recommended a CBI probe into the Adarsh scam.
Earlier in the day, after Congress’ announcements, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the government was willing to discuss all issues with the Opposition parties and hoped that the Winter Session of Parliament will be peaceful and productive.
“Greetings to you all. We are looking forward to the session and we hope that this session will be peaceful and productive,” he told reporters in Parliament House.
BJP-led NDA had declared that it would not allow Parliament to function till “strong action” is taken in the Adarsh Housing scam.
Kalmadi has been under pressure from Opposition parties to resign as Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee after the corruption allegations erupted, but he had persistently refused to step down.
Soon after the completion of the Games last month, Congress had left Kalmadi to fend for himself declining to give a clean chit to him or others associated with organisation of the Commonwealth Games.
The party decision on the two leaders comes a week after the AICC session in New Delhi, which came under severe criticism from other political parties and media that there was no mention about scams involving top leaders of the Congress.
Congress apparently did not want any further embarrassment with Opposition parties giving notice that they would rake up all issues relating to scams in Parliament.