MUMBAI: Controversy continues to dog senior BJP leader and revenue minister Eknath Khadse: from accusations of irregular land deals in Pune to allegations that an aide sought bribes to the charge that his son-in-law drives around in an illegally modified limousine.
Further, the Mumbai police on Tuesday insisted that the embattled leader had not been given a clean chit over allegations that his phone received seven calls from the Karachi residence of fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim.
An ‘ethical hacker’, Manish Bhangale, and Aam Admi Party leader Preeti Menon had claimed that calls were made from Dawood’s residence to Khadse’s number between January and March 2015.
However, Khadse wrote to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, requesting him to take action against Preeti Menon, Manish Bhangale and Jayesh Shah (another hacker) for hacking into Pakistani telecom company’s database, which is in violation of Section 65 and 66 (F)(1)(B) of Information Technology Act.
Khadse also requested Fadnavis to initiate a thorough probe. The minister also questioned Bhangale’s decision to make the call records public rather than handing the data over to the police.
The hacker also claimed that the longest call was made on March 23, 2015. Khadse reiterated that this could be a case of ‘ SIM card cloning’ and told HT he has decided not to give further clarifications and wait till the probe is completed. Menon wanted the police to interrogate all the five persons, including Khadse, whose names appeared in the call log. “I felt it was necessary to meet the police commissioner and make him understand the seriousness of the case as nothing concrete has been done by them so far. He has assured us a detailed probe in the case,” Menon told HT.
But this is not the only controversy for which the BJP minister is facing.
In the past 15 days, Khadse, who was a chief ministerial aspirant before Fadnavis was hand-picked by BJP’s top leadership, has been facing a series of allegations especially since the arrest of his alleged aide, Gajanan Patil, by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). Patil was caught seeking a bribe of Rs30 crore from Dr RK Jadhav, former director of Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management, who had sought government land for setting up an educational campus at Thane. The ACB has given a clean chit to Khadse and his staff in this matter.
Khadse again found himself at the receiving end after his sonin-law Pranjal Khewalkar was accused of possession of an illegally modified limousine. Later, Khadse sent a defamation notice to activist and former AAP leader Anjali Damania and asked her to give an unconditional apology , or face legal action.
The flurry of accusations and allegations against the second most powerful minister in the state did not cease. A Punebased builder claimed that Khadse bought land in a state government developed industrial estate at Pune at throwaway prices. The builder, Hemant Gavande, claimed that a three-acre plot, which was sold to Maharashtra Industries Development Corporation by the original owner 25 years ago, has names of Khadse’s wife and sonin-law in the land title. Khadse clarified that the plot was bought by his wife, Mandakini Khadse, from the land owner by adopting proper procedure, said a release issued by his office.