Maharashtra deputy CM Bhujbal quits over Zee attack

MUMBAI: The attack by alleged National Congress Party (NCP) workers on Zee TV's offices in Mumbai has led to Maharashtra deputy chief minister and home minister Chhagan Bhujbal's resignation.

NCP head honcho Sharad Pawar announced at a press conference late 23 December evening that the party had accepted Bhujbal's decision.



Pawar said that Bhujbal has taken 'moral responsibility' for the attack and tendered his resignation. On being queried whether the party was overreacting on a simple matter, Pawar came out strongly saying it was a serious matter. "It is all about media freedom. There has been an attack on media. We don't take matters such as these lightly," he said.

Pawar added that Bhujbal said he was not associated with the incident, nor did he condone it, but that he takes the onus for it. "Two journalists have been injured, lady staffers from Zee are in hospital," Pawar said. "The whole country has been watching. Sloganeering was going on. What is there to investigate?"

Pawar said he spoke to Zee TV CEO Subhash Chandra in the afternoon assuring him that he did not condone the attack and that action would be taken. He said he spoke to Bhujbal later.

Pawar informed that he had been told, the attack today was a reaction by party workers to a recent spoof carried in Alpha Marathi's show Ghadlay Bighadlay. The show was related to the Telgi stamp paper scam in which Bhujbal is accused of having a hand.

"We did not ask him (Bhujbal) to resign," Pawar said. "He offered to. The resignation today is related to today's incident alone of an attack on Zee TV's office."

Political analysts however aver that the party finally bowed down to pressure following accusations of his involvement in the multicrore Stamp scam.

Pawar informed journalists that a party worker from the northern Mumbai district of Vile Parle had been identified and arrested by the police for his involvement in the attack. "We have sacked him from the party," Pawar pointed out.

Earlier in the day, a group of 50-60 NCP members had allegedly stormed into Zee TV's office in Chintamani Plaza, Andheri, the heart of the television industry in India, and smashed computers, thrashed Zee TV employees.

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