Mumbai: Udayanraje Bhonsle, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP from Satara in western Mahaarshtra and a direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was arrested and released on interim bail on Tuesday in a case of threatening a businessman and extortion.
Bhonsle was arrested around Tuesday afternoon and produced in the district court which remanded him to 14-day judicial custody. The NCP MP filed a bail application within hours and was granted interim bail.
Situation in Satara, which was one of the seats of power of the Maratha rule, remained tense and a bandh was observed. Bhonsle has received support from Congress MP Rajiv Satav and Rajya Sabha MP Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje, another direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji, who has been nominated to the upper house with the BJP’s support.
In March, the Satara police registered a case of rioting, attempt to murder, and extortion case against Bhonsle after Rajivkumar Jain, proprietor of an alloy manufacturing unit in Satara district, accused the NCP MP and his men of beating him up and demanding money. Bhonsle filed a pre-arrest bail plea in the Bombay high court. On 21 July, the Bombay HC rejected the bail application following which Bhonsle presented himself at a police station in Satara on Tuesday morning.
Bhonsle, 51, has had a controversial career as a politician. In 1999, he was arrested in a murder case and was later acquitted by the court. He has been with the NCP since 2009 when he was first elected to the Lok Sabha. Before moving to the NCP, Bhonsle was with the Congress and was also with the BJP during the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance government in Maharashtra from 1995 to 1999. The 13th direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji, Bhonsle has routinely courted controversies due to his run-ins with the law and brashness.
“He has his own stature and fiefdom in Satara and has never followed the discipline of any party he has been with. He is not a conventional politician and gets elected on the merit of his personal popularity and lineage," said an NCP legislator who has seen Bhonsle from close quarters requesting anonymity. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Bhonsle won by over 370,000 votes, one of the highest margins of victory in the country, and his victory margin was nearly 300,000 in the 2009 election as well.
A senior police official in Satara, who did not wish to be named, said the Satara town came to a standstill on Tuesday after Bhonsle’s arrest. “It is a mix of popularity, royal lineage, and fear also. People don’t want to court any trouble. The situation has been tense since last night when his arrest was on cards," said the official.