After revenue minister and senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse found himself in the dock over the arrest of an alleged aide in a Rs30-crore bribery case, the state government just fell short of giving him a clean chit on Friday.
Ram Shinde, minister of state for home said, “Primarily, it seems Khadse has no connection with the case. The ACB is investigating the matter and it will punish all those found guilty,” Shinde said.
Khadse sent a defamation notice to activist Anjali Damania for making false allegations and also requested chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to probe her intentions.
“Allegations against me by Damania and Sachin Sawant with respect to vehicles and land are baseless with an intention to defame me. I had asked them to furnish proof and take my apology and resignation. That has not happened. I have sent a defamation notice now,” Khadse said.
Gajanan Patil, a BJP worker in Jalgaon (Khadse’s home district), was arrested by the ACB while seeking a bribe of Rs30 crore from Dr RK Jadhav, former director Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management, who had sought government land to set up an educational campus in Thane district.
Shinde said Khadse is a senior minister in the government and has repeatedly clarified that the proposal seeking allotment of land had been rejected by him in February itself, despite which he has been targeted by Opposition parties.
Shinde’s comment came at a time when the ACB on Thursday seized documents from the office of the revenue department at Mantralaya, the state secretariat. State BJP president Raosaheb Danve, too, declared his support for Khadse by claiming he is being targeted unnecessarily.
In his defamation notice, Khadse has asked former AAP leader Damania to refrain from making defamatory statements against him, tender an unconditional written apology and pay damages quantified by him. “Failing which, he will be constrained to initiate action under section 499 and 500 of IPC and appropriate civil proceedings and other provisions of law including, but not limited to civil and criminal remedies,” says the notice.
The notice mentions Damania allegations of Khadse owning 10,000 acres of land and his son-in-law owning an illegally modified limousine, among others. “I will sue everyone who is tarnishing my image,” Khadse said. He also procured the Call Detail Records (CDR) for his mobile number after allegations were made that by AAP leader Preeti Menon over his alleged links with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
Menon alleged Khadse’s name figured in Dawood call logs. It came to light after it was hacked and the list was made public.
Khadse said the call records clearly indicate his mobile number has not received any international calls between May 1, 2015 and May 8, 2016 because the number was inactive. “I have asked the chief minister to probe the intention of the people making such concocted allegations. Also, how does an AAP leader know about the telephone numbers of an underworld don?” Khadse said.