MUMBAI: Shocked at the arrest of senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal for money laundering in the Maharashtra Sadan scam, partymen took to the streets, reacted aggressively in the legislature and staged blockades across the state.
Bhujbal was arrested by the enforcement directorate (ED) for allegedly receiving kickbacks worth crores in the Maharashtra Sadan case. Bhujbal’s nephew Sameer, also a former MP, is already facing arrest in the same case.
Questioning the government’s motive, Pawar said, “A BJP MP announced Bhujbal would be arrested and then it happened. This smacks of political motive. I don’t want to comment on the legal aspects of the case. We will fight the legal battle. We are behind Bhujbal.”
While talking to the media in Delhi, Pawar pointed out the decision to allot the contract to build Maharashtra Sadan was taken by a cabinet sub-committee under the then chief minister.
Party legislators staged a dharna on the stairs of Vidhan Bhavan, wearing black arm bands as mark of protest. Congress legislators, too, joined them.
NCP leaders demanded discussion on the arrest in both Houses of the state legislature, leading to several disruptions.
The lower house was adjourned four times, as speaker Haribhau Bagade refused to admit the adjournment motion notice. “Let the law take its course in the probe, but this arrest shows a specific political motive. The BJP is trying to unleash political terror,” said Congress’ Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, leader of opposition.
The legislative council, too, was adjourned for the day, after three disruptions. Members from the Opposition rushed to the well and started raising slogans, when chairman Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar refused to accept the notice for adjournment motion.
Senior NCP leader Jayant Patil said, “It is a conspiracy planned by the BJP. Or else how could Kirit Somaiya, a BJP MP from Mumbai North East parliamentary constituency, be privy to the information on Bhujbal’s arrest on Monday afternoon itself. He made the news public, even as the questioning was on.”