It’s been more than two years, former Maharashtra deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal languishing in jail. Sharad Pawar, who is known to be a supreme politician of Maharashtra and the head of NCP, offered to compromise Bhujbal over Ajit Pawar, who was neck deep in corruption and had to resign from his post.
Bhujbal, who is known for his ruthless and thankless behaviour among his people, is now trying to correct his karma by doing charity. This Diwali he is in news for charity. I am happy that these netas when get caught realise the value of human being. Otherwise, he reportedly owns five bungalows in Nashik, 12 shops and flats in Mumbai, bungalows in Thane and Belapur in Navi Mumbai. In Mumbai, he and his family own flats at Worli, Mazgaon, Churchgate, Mahim, Dadar and Santacruz. The 65-acre bungalow with an adjoining helipad is located in Pune’s Lonavla. The 46,500 sq ft space in Nashik is called Bhujbal Farms. This property, which is a 25-room palace with gymnasiums and a full-sized swimming pool, is worth Rs 100 crore alone – a far cry from the Rs 22 crore that Bhujbal had listed as his total assets in his election affidavit.
If Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) has to be believed then their records said that Bhujbal has a 2,000 sq ft flat and a Toyota car at Worli, a 600 sq ft flat in Mazgaon, a 1,200 sq ft mini-theatre in wife Meena’s name at Manek Mahal in Churchgate, three floors in the Solitaire building in Santacruz, and a six-bedroom bungalow in Lonavla worth Rs 5 crore which has imported furniture and six service quarters and is built on property spread across 2.82 acres and equipped with a helipad and a huge garden. After attainment of pinnacles in a career spanning four decades across political parties from Shiv Sena to Congress and finally to Nationalist Congress Party, Bhujbal (70) now finds himself perhaps in the most critical juncture of his journey. He was an influential OBC leader; ironically those who stood by him for all these years seemed to have turned bête noire as the business empire he had built so far stands on the verge of collapse.
From a nonentity existence as a street vegetable vendor to his tenure as the second-in-command at the Mantralaya in Mumbai, Bhujbal’s rise to fame is a political folktale. During his rush to glory, he relied heavily on his nephew Sameer Bhujbal but the very pillar that supported him has now cut his roots. Sameer’s statements to the probing agency nailed the controversial NCP leader landing him behind bars, although Chhagan is claiming innocence saying Sameer was the brain behind all the illegal financial transactions. Sameer is also in jail these days.
Large amounts of cash laundered with the help of hawala operators was pumped into shell companies floated by his nephew Sameer and son Pankaj Bhujbal. ED has tracked over a dozen Kolkata-based companies which bought shares in companies fully owned and controlled by Bhujbals.
Money was later channelled through various companies to start projects like the Hex World in Kharghar. It is also learnt that bribe amount may have been used to float these companies. Bhujbal is being investigated for alleged corruption in contracts awarded for the construction of the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi. Other projects when he was at the helm of affairs at the Public Works Department during the NCP-Congress government in Maharashtra have also come under the scanner.
No doubt, that the arrest of Bhujbal is a setback to the party, struggling to refurbish its public image after the major drubbing it received in the 2014 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Two other senior party leaders Ajit Pawar and then the state party chief Sunil Tatkare faced investigation by the Anti-Corruption Bureau in a number of irrigation projects to the tune of Rs 70,000 crore.
Bhujbal is an Other Backward Class (OBC) leader and has mass base in Maharashtra. He belongs to Mali caste. Bhujbal started his political career from Shiv Sena in the 1960s. Before entering politics he was a vegetable vendor in Byculla Market where his mother used to sell fruits in a small shop. After completing Diploma in Mechanical Engineering from VJTI, Bombay and being influenced by Shiv Sena philosophy and more particularly, by the die-hard personality of Shiv Sena Supremo Shri Balasaheb Thackeray, Bhujbal was evolved into a hard core Shiv Sainik. He was amongst the initial members of Shiv Sena and worked enthusiastically to spread the party in nook and corner of Maharashtra. He was duly rewarded for hard work put in party building. He left the party in 1991 and joined the Indian National Congress. Later, after the Indian National Congress leader Sharad Pawar decided to split from the Congress and form his own party, the Nationalist Congress Party, Bhujbal went along with him. Since then he had to face lots of ups and downs but today when he is miserable no one is seen around him except his office bearers and public relation team. Hope this leader gets to trial soon and reaches to some conclusion.
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