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May Pawar bless you, Thackeray taunts Bhujbal

October 06, 2008 14:38 IST

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Indicating that Nationalist Congress Party leader Chhagan Bhujbal may not be rejoining his former party, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray [Images] on Monday asked his one-time protege to "live happily" in the Sharad Pawar-led outfit.
After Bhujbal withdrew an 11-year-old defamation case against the Sena chief last week, there was speculation that the Other Backward Class leader, sidelined in the NCP for some time, was veering towards reconciliation with his old party.
Bhujbal, Maharashtra's Minister for Public Works, had said he withdraw the case after a letter from Sena leaders who asked him to consider Thackeray's poor health and inability to leave his house.
"Like I have grown old, you have also not got younger. The hair on your bald pate will not come back and your suffocation within NCP won't stop," Thackeray said in an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana.
"Had Bhujbal stayed in the Shiv Sena, he would have become Chief Minister and pests like Naroba (Thackeray's pet name for former Shiv Sainik and current Revenue Minister Narayan Rane) would not have come up," he said.

The Bhujbal-Thackeray rift

"The departure of colleagues mid-way has not affected us the last. When blood relations betrayed us, what can one say about other," Thackeray said in an apparent mention of nephew Raj Thackeray, who left Sena two years ago and formed his own party. However, be it Bhujbal or other shiv sainiks, our ties with them have been stronger than those with blood relations," Thackeray said.

"Today, Bhujbal is sitting with Pawar and has withdrawn the case against us after asking him. That is great...may Pawar bless him," he said.
Thackeray also recalled Bhujbal's 25-year stint in the Sena and the courage he displayed in situations like the boundary row between Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Bhujbal left the Sena in 1991 to join the Congress. Later, he became one of the founder members of the NCP.     

Bhujbal's reason for leaving the Sena was said to be the marginalisation of the other backward classes in the party.
However, in the NCP, which is seen as a predominantly Maratha party, he has been increasingly sidelined, especially after his name cropped up in the Telgi scam.
Sena Executive president Uddhav Thackeray and other party leaders accompanied Bhujbal to the court in Bandra last week where he withdrew the defamation case.
The case was filed in Nashik in September 1997 after reports in the Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' on July 23 and 24, 1997 that Bhujbal had instigated the desecration of a bust of Babasaheb Ambedkar in Ramabai Nagar in eastern Mumbai. The desecration led to riots in which 10 people were killed in police firing.

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