Uddhav Thackeray’s cryptic response adds to talk of Chhagan Bhujbal joining Shiv Sena

As speculation resurfaced of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal joining his party, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday responded with a cryptic ‘answers will come at appropriate time’.

Talks of Bhujbal and his son Pankaj joining the Sena ahead of the state Assembly elections – due in October — have been doing the rounds for some time now. Apart from Bhujbal, another senior NCP leader Sunil Tatkare is also rumored to join the Sena. Tatkare, who is a member of Parliament from Raigad, has however denied the speculation.

When asked if the two senior NCP leaders are making their way into the Sena, Thackeray said, “Answers to all this will come at an appropriate time.”

Bhujbal started his political career with Shiv Sena but broke off after 25 years to join the Congress in 1991 and later Sharad Pawar’s NCP.

Interestingly, Thackeray last month had assured party workers from Nashik district, from where Bhujbal hails, that they are not inducting him. Bhujbal, too, has denied the speculation in the past.

There is a division within the Sena top ranks over the induction of Bhujbal. Several senior leaders, including Subhash Desai, Sanjay Raut and Diwakar Raote are against Bhujbal’s re-entry. Some section of Sena functionaries also feel that the sentiments of common Shiv Sainiks will be “hurt” if Bhujbal comes back in the party fold.

The Shiv Sena workers also put up a flex board poster opposite party headquarters, Sena Bhavan, in Dadar, opposing the re-entry of Bhujbal. The posters, which are put up at several locations, stated the people of Maharashtra will not forget what he did to Bal Thackeray and will not accept him in the party.