Accusations against me were a ploy to keep me down, says Chhagan Bhujbal

Neither bitter nor bear any ill-will towards anyone despite being ‘falsely accused’ in the case, he says

After a special court in Mumbai acquitted Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal, his son Pankaj and nephew Sameer Bhujbal along with five others for their alleged role in the multi-crore Maharashtra Sadan Scam, Mr. Bhujbal said the accusations had merely been a ploy to suppress him and that there had been no financial irregularities of any kind.

Mr. Bhujbal, who holds the Food and Civil Supply and Consumer Affairs portfolio in the Uddhav Thackeray-led ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ government, said he was neither bitter nor bore any ill-will towards anyone despite being “falsely accused” in the case.

“When my case started, Central agency raids were probably a new phenomenon. But now, the public knows that such ED probes are politically motivated…ultimately, truth triumphs and I thank everyone who stood by me including [NCP supremo] Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray as well,” said Mr. Bhujbal, taking a jibe at the BJP-ruled Central government.

He said the Maharashtra Sadan today stood as a beautiful building where politicos from all parties could stay in comfort.

“I was wrongly accused of favouring a particular contractor. He did not get one foot of FSI nor a single rupee that was not his due. Despite this, I was accused of making ₹800 crore which I later allegedly diverted to purchase properties. There was a big media trial and I served a jail sentence. But despite the trials faced by my family, my party leader Sharad Pawar always stood by me,” Mr. Bhujbal said.

Activist Anjali Damania, who has been pursuing the case against Mr. Bhujbal and his family, is likely to move the Bombay High Court.

“While someone will take recourse to the High Court or the Supreme Court, the most detailed discussion on a particular case takes place in the Sessions court which has declared that there was no evidence against me,” Mr. Bhujbal said, rebuking Ms. Damania by stating that he was aware that “some people would not let him sleep in peace”.

The NCP leader said despite spending more than two years in jail where his health had deteriorated sharply, it was now time to “move forward” instead of recalling the dark past.

“There are scores of conspiracies being cooked around me…let them be. I have firm belief in justice. I will face other charges as well. The main case was the Maharashtra Sadan case and the rest of the accusations against me have been linked to it. We are humbly accepting this victory and we bear no grudge against anyone,” said Mr. Bhujbal.

A case was filed in 2015 against the NCP leader and 16 others by the ACB in connection with irregular dealings during the construction of the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi.

The agency claimed that Mr. Bhujbal, who was the PWD Minister in the then Congress-NCP government, had favoured a particular firm while allegedly receiving several crores in kickbacks from them.

According to the ACB, the contractor had earned 80% profit in the construction instead of the only 20% gain they were entitled to.

A case filed by the ED based on the ACB case is still pending. Mr. Bhujbal was arrested by the ED in March 2016 and granted bail in 2018 by the Bombay High Court.

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