Making a comeback after spending two years in jail for his involvement in a money laundering case, Chaggan Bhujbal made his intentions of continuing with his political career clear, putting to rest speculations about quitting the party.
Former Deputy Chief Minister and senior NCP leader yesterday went after the BJP-led government in the state as well as in Centre, saying both have miserably failed on each and every front. He further said that BJP is trying to corner him with corruption allegations and for fooling people with false promises. Chhagan Bhujbal said “Hum bache hai, hum aur bhi Ladenge,” (I have survived, I will continue to fight).
In a rather bizarre statement, he also justified the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi as ‘constitutional’ and said that the Emergency imposed by the BJP now is unconstitutional’.
Out of jail last month, this was Bhujbal’s his first political speech on the party platform. Bhujbal’s long-drawn silence and his meeting of various leaders from the BJP and Shiv Sena had given rise to speculation that the OBC leader may be thinking of switching parties as he had not received support from the NCP while in jail.
It’s rather ironic that a politician who himself was serving a jail sentence on corruption charges was condemning the BJP-led Government. Making sarcastic comments on government’s claims, Bhujbal challenged the government to show them proof of development at least in four districts. “Forget about ‘Achhe Din’, we will be happy if we get at least our earlier good days back,” he made a sarcastic remark. There have been programmes like ‘Startup India and Make in India”, the NCP leader said, adding, “I fear that now there would be a ‘Ruin India’ campaign.”
It is quite clear that the former Deputy CM has forgotten or maybe chooses to forget that he himself was arrested for several criminal offences including criminal misconduct, conspiracy, and cheating, among others.
The six top criminal charges against Chhagan Bhujbal were as follows:
- The Enforcement Directorate in its probe had found prima facie evidence of money laundering and illicit financial flows by the Minister and his family members.
- As a PWD minister, he gave out the development rights of a slum on RTO land in Andheri to a firm, KS Chamankar Enterprises, in 2005 without inviting tenders with the condition that Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi, the RTO building in Andheri and a guest house on Malabar Hill be constructed in return. The Bhujbals are also accused of receiving money under the table.
- Bhujbal was accused of receiving kickbacks for giving a 100 crore contract for the construction of the new Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi.
- A charge sheet was filed against him and his family by Maharashtra ACB in connection with the Maharashtra Sadan construction scam.
- Amit Biraj, a former employee of the Mumbai Educational Trust (MET) had admitted witnessing cash, in denominations of Rs 1000, being counted in the cash room of the MET office which under all possibilities was received by the Minister for illegal favours extended by him
- The money trail established had led the investigation agencies to a web of companies, some on paper and a few non-existent.
Several series of raids were conducted at the properties owned by Bhujbal and his family across Maharashtra. The agency issued a provisional attachment order then, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), against the two assets which are owned by Bhujbal’s firm, which was estimated to be at Rs 55 crores.
It’s often said habits die hard. While serving in jail, it was alleged that Chhagan Bhujbal had extended favours to the prison doctor who in turn changed his medical papers without the knowledge of Arthur Road Jail CMO and recommended that he get admitted there for some other serious reason rather than a simple tooth treatment.
Maharashtra Minister of State for Home (Urban) Ranjit Patil had then ordered a Director General of Police (DGP) level probe into allegations of VIP treatment being accorded to some detainees in lieu of monetary considerations at Arthur Road Jail.