Senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, who was granted bail in a money laundering case, today said the Shiv Sena was bound to have some concern about his health as he had been with the saffron party for 25 years. He said NCP chief Sharad Pawar was the first to call him after he came out of jail. He also expressed hope that “truth” will come out in the Maharashtra Sadan scam case, in which he is an accused. Bhujbal, 70, was today discharged from the civic-run KEM hospital here, where he underwent treatment for nearly a week after being released from the Arthur Road Jail.
He then went to his residence in suburban Santacruz. His son Pankaj Bhujbal later, in a statement, said the former deputy chief minister was suffering from a pancreatic ailment for the last two months, and would require further treatment and surgery for it. Pankaj had yesterday met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who advised him to take care of his ailing father, as per a source privy to the meeting.
The meeting had also triggered speculations about the change in the Sena’s stance towards the senior NCP leader. Today, after reaching his residence from the hospital, Chhagan Bhujbal interacted with media persons and said, “I was going through a downfall and the Sena extended its support verbally. I was with the Sena for 25 years; there will be some attachment for sure. There will be some concern for sure”.
The former deputy chief minister 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 formed the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the former PWD minister went along with him. Asked about how he was feeling now after coming home, the senior NCP leader said, “The skies have cleared now.”
He said after he got the bail, the first phone call that he received was from the NCP president. To a query about his health, he said, “I was not well for the last three-and-a-half months. I have still not fully recovered. Doctors have asked me not to take stress.”
On the future course of his treatment, he said he may have to get admitted to hospital in the coming days. “I may undergo some surgeries and if I get better, I will certainly attend political functions,” he said. The NCP has decided to hold a massive rally in Pune on June 10.
Asked he if would participate in it, the leader said, “If I feel better, I will go to Pune and attend the function.” Chhagan 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.
He is an accused in the case of alleged rampant corruption and large-scale irregularities in the construction of the new Maharashtra Sadan, the state government’s guest house in New Delhi.
When asked about it, the NCP leader said, “The truth will come out for sure.” “A BJP MP had once told me that the Sadan looks beautiful but its maker (Bhujbal) is behind the bars (‘sadan banaya sundar, bananewala andar’),” he added.
After his son met Thackeray yesterday, a Sena MLA said the meeting was a 15-minute courtesy call by Pankaj and that there was no political discussion between them. Asked if there was a possibility of Chhagan shifting his political ideology after having been granted bail, the leader had said it was highly unlikely.
On Tuesday, the Shiv Sena had said that the senior NCP leader’s arrest in the money laundering case and subsequent incarceration was “fate’s revenge” against him for his bid, when he was a cabinet minister, to put Sena founder Bal Thackeray behind bars.