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Deshmukh denies talks with Munde, says he is not joining Congress


June 22, 2011 - New Delhi

Rural Development Minister Vilas Rao Deshmukh on Wednesday denied having talks with senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Gopinath Munde about the latter joining the Congress Party in the wake of a rift with other BJP leaders.

Deshmukh said comments on the rift between BJP leaders, and the rumours of Munde joining Congress were hypothetical.

"Until and unless he doesn't take a decision, till that time, we cannot talk about it. Whenever he takes the decision, then only any talks can take place. Today, he is still the member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and till the time he is a member, I don't think it is right to comment on this issue," he said.

On being asked whether he thought Munde was in the wrong party, Deshmukh said Munde felt the same as media did.

"Munde is my friend and he is our neighbour. He has been my friend for many years, and even before we came into politics Munde and I have been friends. And ever since he's been with the BJP he continues to be my friend.

Over the past few weeks, Munde had not been attending party events in the state and also made frequent visits to the Shiv Sena's top leadership, sparking off rumours that he is unhappy with the outfit and might break away soon.

Munde is understood to be unhappy with the way party chief Nitin Gadkari had tried to cut him to size by sidelining his supporters in Maharashtra.

It has been reported that Munde has sought removal of Sudhir Mungantiwar, President of Maharashtra unit of the party and a Gadkari loyalist.

On the Adarsh Housing Scam, Deshmukh said he had filed his affidavit and the commission would make a decision after enquiring further in the case.

"See if all the affidavits have been made as per the file movements. There is nothing, which we can say, without the record. It is as per the records, whatever I had to say I have stated in my affidavit whatever others have to say they have said in their affidavits. Now it is up to the commission to decide. We should not unnecessarily do some blame game," he added.

Questions were raised on the manner in which apartments in the building were allocated to bureaucrats, politicians and army personnel who had nothing to do with Kargil War and the way in which clearances were obtained for the construction of the building of the society.

The society high-rise was constructed in Colaba, which is considered a sensitive coastal area by the Indian Defence forces and houses various Indian Defence establishments.

The society is also alleged to have violated the Union Environment Ministry rules.

To probe into the Adarsh Housing Society land in Mumbai, state government appointed a judicial commission to carry forward the proceedings of the housing scam.

Recently, Deshmukh also filed an affidavit before the two-member Adarsh inquiry commission claiming that the Adarsh Housing Society land in Mumbai belonged to the Maharashtra government and was never reserved for defence personnel or Kargil war heroes.

On June 17, federal minister for rural development and former Maharashtra chief minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh had said the Adarsh Society land belonged to the state and was never reserved for defence personnel or Kargil war heroes.

The Adarsh scam claimed its first victim last year in the form of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who was forced to resign after reports surfaced that his kin owned flats in the society.

The 31-storey Adarsh Housing Society, originally meant for Kargil war heroes, landed in controversy after media reports said that several politicians, bureaucrats and defence personnel owned flats there.

ANI

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