MUMBAI: Once he headed BJP’s charge against corruption, Khadse now joins the list of politicians who had to quit his post because of charges of corruption.
Until recently, Eknath Khadse’s identity in Maharashtra politics was that of one of the more aggressive opposition leaders in the history of the Maharashtra assembly. During his tenure as the opposition leader in the assembly between 2009 and 2014, Khadse exposed several corruption cases, took a strong stand against the Congress-NCP over the Adarsh or irrigation scams. In fact, he led the BJP’s charge against corruption cases during the Congress-NCP regime. Ironically, on Saturday he became the latest name in the list of politicians who were forced to quit over graft charges.
The entire episode comes as a shock for the BJP as Khadse was a front-line leader of the party in the state and also became its Other Backward Class (OBC) face following the death of Gopinath Munde. In fact, he owes his rise up the political ladder to Pramod Mahajan, who died in 2006, and Munde. Khadse started his political career as the sarpanch or elected head of a village council in 1987. Later, he graduated to the zilla parishad or district council. He was first elected to the Maharashtra assembly from Muktainagar (originally called Aidalabad but he got it renamed) constituency. He has been elected from this constituency for six terms including the 2014 elections.
Khadse,63, comes from the Leva Patil community which has a strong presence in north Maharashtra. The community used to support the Congress but thanks to Khadse, north Maharashtra became a BJP stronghold. In the current assembly, Khadse enjoys support of about a dozen MLAs.
Following BJP’s victory in the 2014 elections, he emerged as a top contender for the CM post but Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah preferred Devendra Fadnavis. Khadse was given the revenue portfolio as a minister along with nine other departments. He was considered as the number two in the cabinet after CM Fadnavis who was the state BJP president then.
He is also part of the core committee of BJP leaders in the state that takes decisions on crucial issues. The others in the committee include Fadnavis, state BJP president Raosaheb Danve and ministers Sudhir Mungantiwar, Vinod Tawde and Pankaja Munde.
Khadse was also a minister in the Sena-BJP government from 1995-99 and handled finance, irrigation and higher education portfolios.