CLAIMING THAT while he was the minister of the Public Works Department, he had neither initiated the proposal for a state library at Kalina nor recommended the name of a developer, Nationalist Congress Party leader Chhagan Bhujbal filed for bail before the special court on Thursday. Bhujbal, who was arrested in March 2016 by the Enforcement Directorate, has claimed that the investigation machinery has been used as “a weapon to settle political and business rivalries”.
Bhujbal has said in his bail plea that the awards of the contracts for the construction of the New Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi and a state library in Kalina were upon the approval of the Cabinet Infrastructure Committee (CIC). Bhujbal has claimed that the CIC functions under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister along with other ministers and secretaries. His bail plea claims that the purpose of decisions in high-stake matters being taken by the CIC is to eliminate the role of a single person and to have “collective check of experts from various departments”.
With regard to the state library at Kalina, Bhujbal has claimed that the proposal for the requirement and construction of the library originated from the Higher and Technical Educational Department and was placed before the PWD ministry only because it is the nodal agency for construction of all government buildings in the state.
“The then PWD Minister i.e. Shri Chhagan Bhujbal was neither responsible for selection of developer nor for calculations pertaining to the benefits to be conferred upon the developer, as the selection was by open tender and the calculation-related nitty-gritties were examined and approved by CIC at Cabinet level,” Bhujbal’s bail application states.
Bhujbal has further claimed that the project of the construction of the New Maharashtra Sadan at New Delhi was decided upon in 2000, with the CIC approving a feasibility report in March 2004. Bhujbal has claimed that he assumed office as a PWD minister only from November 1, 2004. Bhujbal has also said that the other accused in the case were never arrested and have been permitted to furnish bail bonds. On the allegation by the ED of money-laundering, the former deputy CM has claimed that he was not a director in any of the companies named in the ED’s complaint. Bhujbal has been lodged in Arthur Road jail for over a year.