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Bhujbal resigns as Maharashtra deputy chief minister

Vijay Singh and Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai | December 23, 2003 20:07 IST
Last Updated: December 23, 2003 22:01 IST

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal on Tuesday resigned taking 'moral responsibility' for the attack on the office of Alpha TV by activists of the Nationalist Congress Party. Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has accepted his resignation.

"Bhujbal submitted his resignation to me and I have accepted it," Shinde told PTI. "I have forwarded it to the governor," Shinde said.

The Marathi channel [a sister concern of Zee TV] was attacked after it telecast a political satire, Ghadla Bighadla, in which a connection was made between Bhujbal and the stamp paper scam. Four employees of the channel were injured and admitted to a nearby hospital. The programme had a character called Armstrong. Arm in Marathi means 'Bhuj' and strong means 'bal'.

Bhujbal said his resignation had nothing to do with the stamp paper scam. The opposition has accused Bhujbal of clearing the name of former Mumbai police commissioner R S Sharma despite evidence that the top cop had links with prime accused Abdul Karim Telgi.

Talking to Aaj Tak the deputy chief minister said the attack by NCP activists 'saddened him' and he decided to put in his papers. Asked why he did not take 'moral responsibility' and resign after the Mumbai twin blasts, Bhujbal said the attack on the TV channel was done 'in his name'.

Bhujbal's resignation, which was submitted to Pawar, has been accepted by the NCP chief. Addressing a press conference Pawar said, "Attack on the media is serious. Even though Bhujbal admits the attack did not involve NCP activists he has taken moral responsibility for the attack as home minister and deputy chief minister."

Pawar denied suggestions the entire resignation was stagemanaged to avoid the political embarrassment of quitting over the stamp paper scam. Pawar said one 'prominent party worker' has been arrested for the attack. "I have asked city unit chief Sachin Ahir to suspend the worker," he said.

Leader of the opposition in the Maharashtra assembly Narayan Rane while welcoming the resignation of Bhujbal demanded the head of Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde. He said Shinde should quit taking 'moral responsibility' for the stamp paper scam.

BJP leader Nitin Gadkari told rediff.com: "Bhujbal's resignation has nothing to do with the attack on Alpha TV. In fact there was enough proof linking Bhujbal to the Abdul Karim Telgi and Bhujbal knew that he had no option but to resign. Bhujbal is only the first political victim. More heads will roll."

Bhujbal's resignation comes in the backdrop of the pressure on Pawar for his colleague's head in the stamp paper scam.

The opposition had attacked Bhujbal in the just concluded winter session of the state legislature for his alleged complicity in the fake stamp paper scam.

The NCP has convened a high-level meeting on Wednesday in Mumbai. Senior NCP leaders Vijay Sinh Mohite Patil, Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar and state president R R Patil are in the fray for the deputy chief minister's post.

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