Bhujbal signals Sena thaw
Maharashtra Public Works Minister and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal withdrew a defamation case he filled against his one-time mentor and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray in 1997, reports Ketaki Ghoge.india Updated: Oct 04, 2008 00:23 IST
Maharashtra Public Works Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal on Friday withdrew a defamation case he filled against his one-time mentor and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray in 1997.
Thackeray’s son and Sena’s executive president Uddhav Thackeray and senior leader Subhash Desai were with Bhujbal, the original Sena rebel, when he withdrew the case in a Bandra court. The case was filed after Saamna, the Sena mouthpiece, accused him of planning the defacing of an Ambedkar statue in Ramabai Nagar in the city that led to a riot. Ten people died in the police firing that followed. HT spoke to Bhujbal, excerpts from the interview:
Why the turnaround?
I was requested by senior Sena leaders Desai and Sanjay Raut to withdraw the case, considering Thackeray’s ailing health and age. I responded. Let bygones be bygones. There was a time when I fought him and the Sena tooth and nail, and he hit back. But things have changed. Thackeray is no longer active in politics. Also, I can’t forget that I worked under him, grew as a leader.
Will you return to the Sena?
That’s just media speculation. Even (NCP chief Sharad) Pawar shared dais with Thackeray, that doesn’t mean the NCP and Sena are allies. I’m one of the founders of the NCP and have worked to establish the party.
Is your party’s sympathetic approach to the Marathas’ demand to be included among Other Backward Classes brought you closer to the Sena?
Our party has not decided its stand. When it’s discussed, I’ll see what to do.
You’re said to have a soft corner for Uddhav.
I had said Uddhav would be a good leader. He may not be a good orator, but is cool-headed. He’s doing justice to his job. After Narayan Rane and Raj Thackeray left the Sena, everyone said it was the end. Now, everyone is saying the opposite. My insight was correct.