The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stamp storm sparks Bhujbal dash

Mumbai, Nov. 10: Policemen are not the only ones quaking in their boots. Politicians are also running for cover.

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal today rushed to the governor’s residence to present his side of the story after a delegation of opposition leaders alleged that he had taken a bribe running into crores of rupees to “hush up” the stamp-paper scam.

The governor has asked chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to meet him tomorrow and brief him on the Rs 3,000-crore scam that has already led to the arrest of several senior police officers and a legislator from Andhra Pradesh.

The Shiv Sena-BJP-led Opposition is making an all-out effort to put Bhujbal and the government he represents on the mat. Sena leader Narayan Rane urged governor Mohammad Fazal to push for the deputy chief minister’s resignation.

The Opposition has also demanded a CBI inquiry into the scandal as “the racket spreads over nine states and the jurisdiction of the special investigation team probing it would be limited”. The demand for a CBI investigation is being echoed by some working and retired police officers known for their honesty and integrity.

The Opposition alleged that Bhujbal, who holds the home portfolio, has failed to stem the rot within the police force and had no moral right to continue in office. The Opposition has been after Bhujbal who has been embroiled in one controversy after another.

The deputy chief minister’s name recently came up when reports appeared that top posts in the police force were being “auctioned” to the hig- hest bidder. Some of the appointments have raised more than a few eyebrows. It was only last week that Bhujbal and Shinde had a public spat regarding the appointment of dire- ctor-general of police Suren- dra Mohan Shangari.

While Shinde said his deputy had forwarded to him only one name — that of Shangari — out of the four contenders for the top police post, Bhujbal said he had given the chief minister enough reason and time for the appointment.

Today, Bhujbal launched a counter-attack, saying it was during the Sena-BJP regime that 14 cases regarding the scam had been registered but no action was taken against Abdul Karim Telgi, the mastermind. He told the governor that Sena-BJP leaders had tried to help Telgi out.

But there was a more damning accusation from BJP lea-der Nitin Gadkari. After meeting the governor, Gadkari said he had met top officers in the special investigation team and given them evidence regarding Telgi’s Rs 20-crore bribe to a senior politician. It was obvious who the BJP leader was referring to.

“For the first time in the history of Maharashtra, eight police officers have been arrested for their role in a scam and for harbouring links with criminals working at the behest of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and even Pakistan’s ISI,” Gadkari said.

Bhujbal, he added, should be arrested immediately for his failure as home minister.

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