After initial snub, Pawar comes to Bhujbal's rescue

After leaving Chhagan Bhujbal in the lurch over the arrest of his nephew, the NCP chief again stood by him by blaming the BJP government for ‘misusing power’

For a while it seemed as if NCP president Sharad Pawar had left his party colleague Chhagan Bhujbal to fend for himself in the inquiry started by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), when he said that the ex-deputy CM would have to prove his innocence and the arrest of his kin wasn’t an issue for which public protests could be held.

Sharad Pawar and Chhagan Bhujbal. File Pic/Rane Ashish
Sharad Pawar and Chhagan Bhujbal. File Pic/Rane Ashish

But then Pawar changed tack quickly while talking to media persons yesterday by saying that the government was misusing its power to specifically target the Bhujbal family.

Pawar was reacting to Bhujbal’s nephew Sameer’s arrest on Monday night. The Bhujbals face money-laundering charges. Sources said Bhujbal’s other relatives too would be arrested soon by the ED.

“Earlier, we had a Sena-BJP government in which Manohar Joshi and Narayan Rane worked as CMs but they did not misuse power to trouble opponents. Currently, the party which heads governments in the state and centre is misusing power in an unforeseen way,” said Pawar at the NCP office.

While accusing the government of pursuing a particular agenda – he effused to call it a political vendetta – Pawar said that all his party leaders would cooperate with the ED. “We are clean and hence we don’t need to worry,” he said, adding that the decisions for which Bhujbal is being targeted now were collectively taken by the Congress-NCP cabinet.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said it is absolutely wrong to say that this is a case of politics. “This case is all about money laundering charges. The accused should prove himself innocent,” he told mid-day.
Without naming BJP’s Mumbai MP Kirit Somaiya, Pawar said the BJP leader was influencing investigating agencies for framing NCP leaders in the Maharashtra Sadan issue. “These leaders talk of sending us to jails,” said Pawar, adding how could the Bhujbal family be investigated thrice in the same matter (Maharashtra Sadan).

‘Victim of OBC politics’
Clarifying his stand, Bhujbal released a video from the USA where he is hosted by the Congress for a series of seminars.

“I’m targeted because I’m a leader of the backward classes. Some people are out to settle scores with me because of my fight for the OBC cause.

It is a known fact that many in the NCP do not like Bhujbal because of his OBC following, which has proved strength for the party in some places. There was a deliberate attempt to create a parallel OBC leader in the form of Jitendra Awhad late last year.

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