Senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal’s arrest in a money laundering case and subsequent incarceration was “fate’s revenge” against him for his bid, when he was minister, to put Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray behind bars, the Sena said.
Law and power are used many a times to settle political scores, the Uddhav Thackeray-led party added.
Bhujbal, 70, in jail since March 2016, was granted bail on May 4 by the Bombay High Court after it took into consideration his old age and deteriorating health.
Mocking him, the Sena claimed that he desperately wanted to arrest Bal Thackeray around two decades ago when he was Maharashtra’s home minister.
Cases were filed against the late Sena supremo for giving speeches and writing editorials in the name of Hindutva, it said in an editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamana.
“Bhujbal’s imprisonment was the revenge taken against him by fate. He wanted to arrest Balasaheb by any means. Our ally (BJP) was in power at the Centre then and it had sent additional police forces from other states to prevent any law and order problem,” the BJP’s bickering ally said.
This proved that there has been a hidden alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) since then, claimed the Sena.
It said Bhujbal was in jail for two years on money laundering charges, while former Union finance minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram, facing similar charges, came out on bail within eight days of his arrest (in March this year).
“Laws and power are often used to take political revenge,” the Marathi daily said.
Bhujbal, who handled the Public Works Department in the Congress-NCP government, was arrested in March 2016 after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) found in an inquiry that he allegedly misused his office in awarding contracts for PWD projects, causing a loss to the exchequer.
According to the ED, Bhujbal awarded contracts, including the one for the construction of a new Maharashtra Sadan — the state guest house — in Delhi to a private firm, allegedly in return for kickbacks for himself and his family.
The former state deputy chief minister and his nephew Sameer Bhujbal channelled the ill-gotten money into shell companies, the agency alleged.
Bhujbal started his political career with the Shiv Sena and was in the party for over two decades.
He left the Sena in 1991 and joined the Congress.
Later, after Sharad Pawar decided to split from the Congress and form the NCP, the former PWD minister went along with him.