'I will continue to fight the Sena and BJP,' Chhagan Bhujbal tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com.
Will Chhagan Bhujbal join the Shiv Sena, the party he left 28 years ago?
As speculation over the possibility swirled around on Thursday morning, the senior Nationalist Congress Party leader strongly denied he was going anywhere.
Speculation had been rife that Bhujbal would make the jump to his parent party, which he had quit in 1991 to join the Congress, following the NCP's Mumbai chief Sachin Ahir who joined the Sena on Thursday morning.
Bhujbal, the former Maharashtra public works department minister, retorted, "It (Ahir joining the Shiv Sena) makes no difference to the NCP. People come and go."
The combative NCP leader, who is out on bail on medical grounds in a money laundering case, said, "Look, I am committed to the NCP and its ideology and will continue to fight the Sena and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) under Sharad Pawar's leadership."
Bhujbal denied there were internal differences within the NCP about who would head the party in the absence of an active role played by Sharad Pawar.
"There is no difference within the party (about the leadership issue) and just one person quitting the party makes no difference to its strength or performance," Bhujbal said.
Ahir quitting the NCP, he added, would make no difference to its strength and organisation in Mumbai.
"Chhagan Bhujbal quit the Sena, Narayan Rane quit the Sena, Raj Thackeray quit the Sena, Ganesh Naik quit the Sena; did it diminish the party or its strength?" he asked acerbically.
"Sharad Pawarsaheb has handled bigger crises in his life and party than this. I know he is a fighter and we will bounce back in the assembly elections," Bhujbal said when asked about his party's preparation to reclaim lost ground in its western Maharashtra strongholds of Pune, Satara, Kolhapur, Sangli and Solapur.