Facing fire from various quarters, embattled Maharashtra revenue minister Eknath Khadse has demanded a probe into allegations levelled against him by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Preeti Sharma Menon that he received calls from a number registered in the name of fugitive Dawood Ibrahim’s wife.
Menon has alleged that an ethical hacker had hacked into the call data records of a number registered in the name of Dawood’s wife Mehjabeen Shaikh and found that calls were made from it to a number belonging to Khadse.
Khadse, however, dismissed these allegations.
“These are baseless and unsubstantiated allegations. The phone has not been operational since a year now. In fact, there is a strong possibility that the SIM card has been cloned and used.”
The revenue minister, who was a chief ministerial aspirant before Fadnavis was hand-picked by the BJP’s top leadership, is embroiled in multiple controversies with opposition parties gunning for his head.
The alleged Dawood links come at a time when the minister is already facing the heat over an alleged ‘aide’ Gajanan Patil being arrested by the Anti-Corruption bureau (ACB) for demanding a bribe at his behest.
Menon, however, dismissed Khadse’s explanation that the phone was not operational for a year.
“We have information that the bills were generated on Khadse’s number. In fact, a bill of `683 was generated on April 23, which shows that the number was operational till then.”
Menon’s press conference featured Manish Bhangale, a resident of Vadodara, who claimed to have hacked into the call records of Shaikh’s number.
The AAP leader also said that Khadse was trying to tamper with the probe into the issue.
“We have discovered that the Jalgaon superintendent of police Jalinder Supekar wrote to the telecom company, asking for Khadse’s call data records. Hence, the chief minister must sack Khadse immediately,” she said.
Trouble for Khadse, however, continued to mount after opposition parties such as the Congress and the NCP also demanded his resignation over the twin controversies.
The State BJP chief Raosaheb Danve also issued a statement on Saturday evening, saying that the chief minister had already ordered a probe into the issue and the probe’s final report was awaited.