Two years on, Chhagan Bhujbal returns with fiery show

Jul 10, 2018, 06:12 IST | Dharmendra Jore

Bhujbal engaged in a prolonged duel with the finance and forest minister Sudhir Mungattiwar and wondered aloud if the BJP government had gone crazy

Two years on, Chhagan Bhujbal returns with fiery show
Chhagan Bhujbal during the monsoon session at Nagpur yesterday

Released on bail after two years in jail in a corruption case, former minister and senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, was back to his fiery self at the legislative assembly on Monday, shooting off questions over the state's poor financial condition and its apathy towards tribal people demanding land of their own.

Bhujbal engaged in a prolonged duel with the finance and forest minister Sudhir Mungattiwar and wondered aloud if the BJP government had gone crazy. It was Bhujbal's first appearance in the house after two years. He spoke on the supplementary demands (additional grants) of Rs 11,400 crore tabled for approval in the House.

Tempers soared in the treasury side when Bhujbal obliquely called the BJP government crazy. Known for his barbs and sarcasm, the NCP leader wondered how a party full of intellectuals and experts could mess up the state's finances by placing supplementary demands of over R1 lakh crore in the previous session(s) (in the past three years).

"The government can go for a supplementary demand, 3% of the total budget, but you have crossed all limits at every session. When he was in the Opposition, the finance minister would criticise us for supplementary demands. Now, you have breached the financial discipline of the state," Bhujbal said.

He chided Mungantiwar by questioning the massive 50-crore tree plantation drive. "The forest officials say they cannot allot land to tribals who had walked from Nashik to Mumbai because they can't spare time from their plantation drive," he said, adding that the minister should ask for counting of the plantations done so far. "You will get a false figure because they haven't planted that many saplings."

Mungantiwar responded in the same vein, telling the House that the information given by Bhujbal was wrong, and he had nothing to hide unlike the NCP government. He said his department was not responsible for allotting land to tribals. The exchange between the two lasted some time, amid heckling from both sides.

Bhujbal said the government had cheated the people of the state. "I know what you have done in the past four years. You were to make the state's roads pothole-free. Are there any such roads?" he asked angrily.

He questioned the non-payment of Rs 2,000 crore in dues by Reliance Energy, which has sold its Mumbai business to Adani Transmission. "How can you allow such a deal to happen when Reliance has not paid such a huge amount along with interest? The money, if recovered, can be used for creating power infrastructure for the poor."

Bhujbal said the state BJP government would not be able to do anything in the matter that involves Ambani and Adani, because, "it is handled at the top".

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