Senior NCP leader and former deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal is known for fiery speeches. Few months back, there were speculation that Bhujbal would return to his old party, the Shiv Sena.
The OBC strongman, who grew on to become the Dy CM of the state is now facing several charges of corruption and probes by multiple agencies. Bhujbal, a former Maharashtra deputy chief minister, was once Bal Thackeray’s blue-eyed boy but fell out with his mentor and left the party. He had over the years earned a reputation of being a firebrand, aggressive politician, whether in power or in opposition, but since being released on bail in a money laundering case in 2017, he has adopted a more measured tone.
Bhujbal once a vegetable vendor in Byculla market to one of the most indisputable names in the corridors of power, Bhujbal's rise has been dramatic. Bhujbal started his political career with the Shiv Sena in 1960s. He started his political carrier as Shiv Sena's Shakha Pramukh in central Mumbai's Mazgaon area. 1973, he was elected as a corporator.
Bhujbal was twice elected as Mayor of Mumbai twice in 1985 and 1991. And was also Shiv Sena MLA from Mazgaon Constituency in 1985 and again in 1990. But in 1990, Bhujbal was upset and quit Shiv Sena, when the party appointed Manohar Joshi as the opposition leader in Assembly. Ultimately, in December 1991, he walked out of the Shiv Sena with a group of supporters and joined the Congress under Sharad Pawar’s leadership.
As a Shiv Sena leader, Bhujbal was very close to party founder Bal Thackeray. With fiery oratory skills, Bhujbal soon became a popular name in the party rank. After he quit the Sena, he miraculously escaped an attack on him by angry Shiv Sena workers. Bhujbal even went on to arrest his party mentor Bal Thackeray when he was the Home Minister. Relations between him and Thackeray were severed during this time.
But in 1995, Bhujbal lost the Mazgaon seat to a Sena leader Bala Nandgaonkar. He later became the Leader of Opposition after Shiv Sena-BJP alliance came into power. Meanwhile, under Pawar’s wing, Bhujbal replicated his rise in the NCP, eventually serving as the Maharashtra deputy CM in 2000. After the formation of the NCP, Bhujbal was made the president of the state unit and when the NCP Congress alliance came to power, he was made the Deputy CM and Home Minister.
In the 2014 assembly elections, Bhujbal had defeated his nearest rival Sambhaji Pawar of Shiv Sena by a margin of more than 46,000 votes. Bhujbal, currently out on bail in a money laundering case, had mostly campaigned for himself in Yevla. His son Pankaj Bhujbal is in the fray from Nandgaon constituency, also in Nashik district.