Cong stalwarts in Adarsh blame game

The blame game over the Adarsh scam continued on Saturday with the former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan pointing a finger at his predecessor Vilasrao Deshmukh, saying that as revenue minister during the latter's tenure it was beyond his jurisdiction to allot land to the society.

'All land allotment matters pertaining to Mumbai city, Mumbai suburb and Pune city comes under the jurisdiction of the chief minister irrespective of the value of the land. All matters pertaining to land allotment in [the] rest of Maharashtra is under the jurisdiction of the revenue minister,' Chavan told the two-member inquiry commission probing the scam.

Chavan was the state revenue minister from October 1999 to January 2003, when Deshmukh was the chief minister.

Deshmukh, during his stint as chief minister, had issued a Letter of Intent (LOI) in favour of allotting land to the Adarsh society. 'In the revenue department, the file is processed by various officers like the under secretary, deputy secretary and principal secretary after which it is sent to the revenue minister along with a note from the principal secretary. Usually the revenue minister goes by the recommendation made by the principal secretary and forwards the file to the CM who takes final decision,' Chavan said.

Noting that since he did not have to take the decision on allotting the land to the controversial society, Chavan said his department did not feel the need to bring to his notice that the land was in possession of the Local Military Authority.

In his deposition on Tuesday, Deshmukh had said that he was not informed by the revenue department that the land where the building stands in upmarket Colaba was in possession of the Local Military Authority and a garden existed on the plot.

Meanwhile, the central leadership of the Congress steered clear of the blame game going on among three of its former chief ministers from Maharashtra over issue, saying that the party did not comment on matters that were sub-judice.

'A commission of inquiry is on. The matter is sub-judice. We do not comment on matters which are sub-judice,' the party spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters.
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