CVC row: Maharashtra CM claims innocence
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday told the Maharashtra assembly that he, as Union Minister of State for Personnel and Training, was unaware of any negative vigilance report or pending criminal case against P J Thomas before the latter's appointment as the Central Vigilance Commissioner.
Making a statement in the House, Chavan said he had suggested three names -- one serving and two retired -- for the post of CVC.
"The department of Personnel and Training, which prepared the service records of the three candidates had no mention of negative vigilance remarks or pending criminal case against Thomas. Hence, I accepted the name and forwarded it to the three-member committee to finalise the appointment of CVC," he said.
Chavan said after the appointment of Thomas was challenged in the SC, he sought the official's vigilance records and found that the Central Vigilance Commission in a letter dated June 25, 2007 to the Department of Personnel and Training had cleared Thomas's name.
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Image: Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan
'Kerala government gave the go-ahead'
When the Centre sought Kerala government's opinion on October 17, 2008 about availability of Thomas on central deputation, Kerala government, through a letter dated December 2,2008 had approved of the same, Chavan said.
"It was due to the Kerala government's go ahead that the appointment of Thomas as secretary of parliamentary affairs and Telecom at the Centre was possible," Chavan said.
Even the Union home minister had spoken about clearance to Thomas from the then CVC, Chavan said, adding there was no room to suspect credentials of Thomas because the then CVC had also cleared his name and the Kerala government had given a go-ahead for his Central deputation.
There was no attempt to mislead on this issue and after Supreme Court order, the prime minister has already stated in Parliament that the appointment of Thomas as CVC was a mistake, he said.
Image: File photo of Thomas with President Pratibha Patil
No more 'Mr Clean'?
Opposition leaders in Maharashtra have been demanding Chavan's resignation in connection with the controversy over appointment of CVC.
"Chavan should resign on moral grounds since his name was mentioned by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Rajya Sabha in connection with appointment of P J Thomas," state BJP President Sudhir Mungantiwar has said.
"Prithviraj Chavan took charge of the state as 'Mr Clean'. But then he was accused of getting a flat (meant for below-poverty-line category). His name came up in the S-Band controversy, and now the Prime Minister has directly named him in the Thomas matter," he said.