MUMBAI: Can former revenue minister Eknath Khadse, who resigned on Saturday, make a political comeback?
The dismissal of Khadse, a one-time mentor of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, points to a political sabbatical for the North Maharashtra leader even though he is hoping for a rehabilitation following a probe.
Khadse’s political future now rests on the outcome of a judicial probe announced by Fadnavis. Khadse had sought for a probe into all his allegations and a section within the BJP think this may be one way to get the minister back in the saddle.
Echoing this view, a senior BJP functionary said that Khadse’s return was imminent and the judicial probe was a mere political adjustment. “The judicial probe is being conducted by a retired judge and the ruling party can get a report of its choice,” he added.
The minister said he was a victim of conspiracy. “I have worked on many posts in my 40-year political career but had never experienced such a media trial. No evidence has been presented against me in any of these allegations, which smack of a motive of maligning me and the party,” said Khadse. He said he is resigning solely on moral grounds and the BJP tradition in the face of such allegations but would come out clean after a probe.
“He is an aggressive leader. The former minister has already projected the entire controversy as a ploy against an OBC leader which may affect the party as well. Hence, he may play an important role in the OBC community breaking away which cannot be considered as a good sign for the BJP, ‘’ a senior BJP minister remarked.
The comeback may not be easy given the rift between Fadnavis and Khadse as well as the seriousness of the charges.
“There was a silent war going on between the CM and Khadse after formation of the government as the latter expected to be CM. More than the rivalry, the seriousness of the charges and his functioning will go against him,’’ said a senior BJP minister.
Some political rehabilitation will be offered like a Rajya Sabha nomination (that he had refused recently) but it may not necessarily mean another innings in the state, he added.