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Will Chhagan Bhujbal evade arrest over 'amassing' of wealth?

Earlier this week, the ACB registered an FIR against Bhujbal and five others after finding 'substantial and circumstantial' evidence against them.


Nithin Belle

Published: Fri 12 Jun 2015, 8:55 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:56 PM

Mumbai: Controversial Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal is feeling the heat from the series of probes launched by the state’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) into alleged irregularities indulged by him when he was the PWD minister.

Bhujbal, the senior NCP leader from Nashik, has been accused of indulging in corrupt practices and having made a lot of money while handing out contracts for construction of government buildings when he was a minister in the previous Congress-NCP government.

In the run-up to last year’s state assembly elections, the BJP had also accused him and other NCP leaders (including former deputy chief minister Ajit, the nephew of party supremo Sharad Pawar), of being corrupt. But after coming to power, the BJP-led government seems to have slowed down its probes into the irregularities committed by Bhujbal and Pawar (who was also handling the irrigation portfolio for several years).

Earlier this week, the ACB registered an FIR against Bhujbal and five others after finding “substantial and circumstantial” evidence against them. Last week, Bhujbal had been summoned to the ACB office, for recording his statement relating to the scam involving the construction of the Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) activist Anjali Damania had filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay high court earlier, seeking a probe into the alleged irregularities indulged by Bhujbal, his son Pankaj and his nephew Samir. According to Damania, Bhujbal and his relatives have amassed properties amounting to over Rs25 billion.

The court had then directed the ACB to set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the allegations. Bhujbal and his relatives are accused of having received kickbacks in the Rs1 billion deal for developing the new Maharashtra Sadan. Bhujbal is also accused of having indulged in irregularities while handing out contracts for the construction of library and a few other government buildings in Mumbai.

However, the ACB does not appear to be in a hurry to arrest Bhujbal, despite the filing of the FIR.

The NCP leader also has the backing of his boss, Pawar, who claims that the filing of the FIR was “a political conspiracy” by the BJP government.

After last year’s elections, Pawar came to the rescue of the BJP by offering unconditional support to help it form a government. Though the BJP emerged as the single-largest party in the state assembly, it did not have a clear majority to form a government. Its long-term ally, the Shiv Sena was also not willing to extend it support.

Pawar, however, said he would extend help to the BJP to form a government. The Sena and other parties accused both of having entered into a deal, where the BJP government would go slow on the probes into the charges against NCP leaders. The Sena later joined the government, but the BJP has refused to give it key portfolios.


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