In the American TV series Resurrection, Jacob, an eight-year-old boy, wakes up from the dead in the Chinese hinterland with no idea how he got there. He eventually solves the mystery of his death. A bit of that kind of drama played out in Maharashtra politics last week—in Vidarbha, synonymous now with farmer suicides, an appropriately rural setting to match that of the TV series. The resurrection in this case was of former chief minister Ashok Chavan—untouchable to Congress crown prince Rahul Gandhi only a year ago for fear of the taint of the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society rubbing off. During the 2014 election campaign, Rahul was visibly embarrassed to share the stage with Chavan. But during Rahul’s Vidarbha yatra, the most visible face from the party’s state unit was none other than Chavan. Party leaders admit grudgingly that he has “not just managed to rid himself of the Adarsh taint, but even risen in the eyes of the Congress vice-president”.
When Chavan stepped down from the CM’s post in 2010, after the Adarsh scam broke, his political capital had shrunk to zero. He admitted that no one in the party even wanted to speak to him. But clearly he’s no longer that pariah. Last week in Amravati, he was not just in charge of Rahul’s kisan padayatra, he was marching in step with the Nehru-Gandhi scion. As he faced the TV cameras with Rahul, it became clear, as a senior leader told Outlook, “that Chavan is Rahul’s trusted man in Maharashtra and that he has managed to convince Rahulji that the Adarsh taint is yet to be proven and it was an insider engineering job. Who will question the boss, if the leader is convinced?”