With senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal completing a year in prison, the OBC Mahasabha, an organisation which espouses the cause of Other Backward Classes, has threatened to take out a protest rally to Mantralaya on April 6 to seek the release of the jailed leader. “The move against Bhujbal, who is a towering leader of the OBC community, has been carried out by casteist forces. These forces in the Centre and the state have conspired to create hurdles in the path of him getting bail in the case. We plan to undertake a rally to Mantralaya on April 6 to protest against the injustice against Bhujbal saheb,” said Yuvraj Bhujbal, convenor of the OBC Mahasabha.
Bhujbal (70) completed a year in prison on March 14 after he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on charges of corruption and money laundering. There has been a growing uneasiness among the Bhujbal clan over his prolonged detention and declining clout within the NCP.
Bhujbal’s supporters in October last year had decided to use the OBC card to rally support for him and to create political pressure for the release of the leader. The initial momentum of these rallies, however, petered out and Bhujbal continues to languish in jail with his attempts at securing bail being rejected.
The Bhujbal clan and his supporters have been worried over the inability of the senior NCP leadership to rally behind the beleaguered leader. Many believe that the party has ditched the troubled leader. This belief found manifestation in the move in which the NCP dropped all pictures of the arrested leader from its election campaign posters in Nashik, the city that was once deemed to be Bhujbal’s stronghold.