Mumbai: The legal struggle continues for Chhagan Bhujbal, as his fire to come out and get on with political rallies and more so take on opponents is visible when he interacts with party workers when they meet him the court.
The anticipation was high after the Supreme Court order declaring of section 45 of the PMLA (act), as unconstitutional, on Tuesday the small court room was jam-packed with Bhujbal followers and his entire family. Even his granddaughters too sat in line with him to see their grandfather.
The Bharatiya Janta Party leaders have dismissed Bhujbal as a fiery leader or one who has any more clout. They say his release and thereafter has no impending impact. “To take on our government, a person has to be physically and mentally fit. Bhujbal has frail health and his morale is absolutely low,” said a BJP state leader. The spokesperson of BJP Madhav Bhandari told Free Press Journal: “Bhujbal being in or out of jail is of no consequence to our party.”
Interacting with his counsels, one will have no doubt Bhujbal is on top of his case and displays his presence of mind. While listening to the special counsel of Enforcement Directorate speaking on section 24 (amended in 2013) Bhujbal was seen to bend down and quickly grab his copy of PMLA law book to the page being discussed.
Bhujbal’s followers and his clout has hardly diminished being in jail. In fact, certain media reports criticised his meeting people in court premises. On Tuesday, among his devout followers, Shiv Sena’s Legislator Prakash Surve, who has been with Bhujbal since his days in Sena, sat next to his favourite leader.
The Nationalist Congress Party on the other hand is clear BJP is scared of Bhujbal and has vested interests in keeping him behind the bars. “Since 1995 he has been the only leader who challenged the BJP-Sena and took them on,” said Nawab Mullik, the national spokesperson of NCP. Mullik added, “The BJP is blackmailing all opponents with the help of CBI, ET and Income Tax, now with the SC order, their one ammunition is blunt. They will come up with a new act.”
Sena has not openly spoken against Bhujbal, as he has always credited his success to the late Bal Thackeray, despite falling out of the party. Some have tried to insinuate a rift between Bhujbal and his mentor Sharad Pawar, the Nationalist Party Congress, though the fact is Pawar has been tracking the case closely. Bhujbal’s family is in contact with him and they exchange notes on the legal proceedings. However, the political stakes in this case are far many, as a legal luminary shared. “This judge will not be able to go against the government’s say in the current political environment. He will be concerned of his career. As for NCP president, he has been tracking the case, but it is unlikely anyone is listening in this government.”