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Chavan offers to quit on housing scam, Sonia orders probe

By The Assam Tribune

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI, Oct 30 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan Saturday offered to resign over allotment of flats in Mumbai meant for war heroes to unauthorised people during a meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who asked two Union ministers to probe the matter.

Gandhi constituted a two-member team comprising Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister AK Antony to probe the allotment of Adarsh Housing Society flats, originally meant for families of soldiers killed in the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan, to politicians, bureaucrats and military officials.

"It is a fact that Chavan has offered to resign. But a decision on the matter would be taken after the two-member committee submits a report to Congress president," Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi told reporters at the Congress office here.

Chavan met Gandhi at her 10, Janpath residence earlier in the day.

Antony, who is in charge of Congress affairs in Maharashtra, and Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel, were also present at the meeting, sources said.

Chavan's mother-in-law and two other relatives are reported to have got flats in the housing society.

Accompanied by his wife Amita, Chavan earlier met Ahmed Patel.

"I have explained all details about the society controversy to Congress president. I have also offered to resign," Chavan told reporters.

Chavan, 52, said he told Gandhi: "I am here, my resignation is also here. I leave it to you to take a final view."

"I have kept the truth in front of her... The truth should come out so that we can find out who all are responsible," he said.

Congress circles said Gandhi may discuss the Maharashtra political issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after he returns from a foreign tour Saturday night.

"A decision on Chavan's resignation may be taken in the next 48 hours. Otherwise it may be after a week or so," a senior Congress leader told IANS in Mumbai.

In Delhi, Congress circles said the issue has gained importance as the special session of the All India Congress Committee( AICC) is due to start there Tuesday.

"Our senior leaders Antony-ji and Pranab Muukherjee are finding out the details. Sonia-ji will take an appropriate decision after that," Mohan Prakash, Congress secretary in-charge of Maharashtra told IANS.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded the immediate sacking of Chavan. "The BJP demands the Chief Minister should immediately resign or be removed immediately," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters here.

Chavan said that he welcomed the probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Defence Ministry into the allotment.

The scandal has raised a stink, with some senior military officers who got flats claiming they did not know they were meant for "Kargil martyrs".

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