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Done Undone: Chhagan Bhujbal's story

By Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai
Last updated on: December 24, 2003 03:33 IST

Ghadle Bighadle (Done Undone) and Arms Strong are the newest words to enter Maharashtra's political lexicon.

Ghadle Bighadle was the political satire that ended with Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal handing in his resignation.

Arm Strong was the name of the character who enacted the role that seemed to mirror Bhujbal's life. In Marathi, Arm is a synonym for Bhuj and Strong could mean Bal.

Arm Strong is shown trying to hang on to his post in spite of facing allegations of wrongdoing. The programme hinted that Bhujbal might be involved in the stamp paper scam though it never mentioned his name.

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Its telecast on Monday, however, angered Nationalist Congress Party activists who reacted by attacking the Mumbai office of the Alpha Marathi channel, a sister concern of Zee TV, on Tuesday.

Bhujbal said his resignation had nothing to do with the stamp paper scam. He resigned  'saddened' by the attack by NCP activists. Asked why he did not take 'moral responsibility' and resign after the Mumbai twin blasts, Bhujbal said the attack on the TV channel was done 'in his name'.

"As the home minister, it is my responsibility to see that nobody misuses my name," he said before submitting his resignation.

The people at Alpha Marathi were shocked to learn that Bhujbal had resigned accepting moral responsibility for the attack, especially since the opposition has been demanding his resignation for quite some time in connection with the stamp scam.

"It was a routine programme," said Nitin Vaidya, Senior Vice President & Business Head of the channel. "We showed Arm Strong wrestling with other politicians to survive. We were certain this programme would be a hit but never meant to hurt anyone. We were shocked by the attack by the NCP workers because Maharashtra has a history of comedians making satirical comments on the political developments in the state."

NCP president Sharad Pawar too admitted to being hurt by the attack and apologised to Zee Group chief Subhash Chandra Goel for the irresponsible behaviour of his party workers during a press conference at his Mumbai residence soon after Bhujbal resigned.

Asked pointedly if he didn't feel that it was too small an incident for the home minister to resign and that Bhujbal was resigning to avoid embarrassment in connection with the stamp scam, Pawar said, "I have told you the reason is the attack on Alpha Marathi's office. If you want to derive some other meaning, it is up to you."

Among other things, the satire had touched on Assistant Police Inspector Dilip Kamath's letter to Governor Mohammad Fazal accusing Bhujbal of being involved with the stamp scam. Kamath, now under arrest, reportedly told Fazal that Telgi was given the royal treatment by the police force on the instructions of the deputy chief minister and his nephew Sameer Bhujbal.

Asked why the channel had targeted Bhujbal, Vaidya said, "We had earlier done a take-off on, among others, Shiv Sena leader Narayan Rane and the Bharatiya Janata Party's Nitin Gadkari." One is the leader of the opposition in the Maharashtra legislative assembly and the other in the council.

"It is just a humour-based programme. The aim is only to make people laugh not to hurt or malign anyone."
Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai