For Congress Leader Ashok Chavan, Big Setback in ‘Paid News’ Row
NEW DELHI: Congress leader Ashok Chavan has lost an important case today – the Supreme Court ruled that the Election Commission has the authority to decide whether a candidate can be disqualified for misrepresenting how much money was spent on his or her campaign.
Judges have asked the Election Committee to determine within 45 days whether Mr Chavan fudged his accounts for the 2009 state election, which he won. Mr Chavan, 55, is running for Parliament now from Nanded in his home state.
Mr Chavan, who was removed as Chief Minister of Maharashtra in 2010 after allegations of corruption, has been accused by the BJP and others of under-reporting his expenses. The Congress leader allegedly did not include the amount he spent on “paid news” – a series of newspapers ran articles praising his achievements.Mr Chavan has denied any wrong-doing and said the newspaper reports were objective assessments of his work.
His nomination for the Lok Sabha election had attracted much controversy with the BJP slamming Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi for the decision in the face of his promise of zero-tolerance towards corruption. Mr Chavan was indicted by an inquiry panel that investigated the Adarsh scam in Mumbai in December last year, for “blatant violations” of statutory provisions. It said Mr Chavan and other bureaucrats gave permissions and clearances and it was a quid pro quo.
The Adarsh Housing Society is a 31-storey building in Colaba in South Mumbai whose apartments were intended for war veterans and widows, but were allegedly grabbed by politicians, defence officers and bureaucrats.