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Chhagan Bhujbal makes strong comeback at the party’s public rally in Pune, put to rest speculations

Drawing thunderous applause, the speech taunted the BJP for fulfilling all promises made. “In four years, everyone has got a job and rapes have stopped occurring,” Bhujbal said, sarcasm writ loud.

pune Updated: Jun 11, 2018 14:58 IST
Yogesh Joshi
Yogesh Joshi
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,chhagan bhujbal,makes
Chhagan Bhujbal made a strong political comeback at the party’s public rally at Shinde high school ground , Sahakarnagar in Pune on Sunday, to mark the NCP’s 19th anniversary.(HT PHOTO)

Out on bail after 26 months for his alleged involvement in a money laundering scam, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal made a strong political comeback at the party’s public rally in Pune on Sunday, to mark the NCP’s 19th anniversary.

Bhujbal, while putting to rest speculations about quitting the party, attacked the BJP-led government at the centre amidst lavish praise for NCP chief Sharad Pawar. The OBC (other backward class) face of the party, Bhujbal said he joined Pawar in the 1990s by quitting the Shiv Sena because the Maratha strongman had supported reservations for various communities coming under the OBC category.

Out of jail last month, this was Bhujbal’s his first political speech on the party platform. Bhujbal’s long-drawn silence and his meeting of various leaders from the BJP and Shiv Sena had given rise to speculation that the OBC leader may be thinking of switching parties as he had not received support from the NCP while in jail.

“It was only Pawar who supported the OBC reservation, as well as renaming of Marathwada University, at a time when all other parties were opposed to it. That is why I have been with Pawar,” Bhujbal said in his 40-minute speech. Bhujbal added that when he was in jail, Pawar was constantly in touch with his family members.

“From here on I will not just speak, but will come on to the streets whenever the party needs it,” Bhujbal said, adding, “If there is anything wrong in the party, we will correct those mistakes.” The OBC leader said he will soon make a new beginning.

Drawing thunderous applause, the speech taunted the BJP for fulfilling all promises made. “In four years, everyone has got a job and rapes have stopped occurring,” Bhujbal said, sarcasm writ loud.

Bhujbal also did not forget to thank leaders across party lines who extended support when he was in jail. “Leaders from various parties prayed for my early release, while some came to meet after my release. I thank each one of them,” he said, expressing his gratitude to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, MNC chief Raj Thackeray, and BJP leaders Girish Bapat and Dilip Kamble.

Pawar, too, appreciated Bhujbal’s work for Maharashtra Sadan, for which Bhujbal has faced allegations of corruption, saying allegations against the NCP leader were unfortunate.

Expressing confidence in the judiciary, Bhujbal said he was assured of coming out clean during trial.

First Published: Jun 10, 2018 21:38 IST