MUMBAI: The resignation of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister Eknath Khadse has come as a boon for the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
The BJP had made corruption its main plank during the state assembly elections in 2014. However, within 18 months of forming the government in Maharashtra, a senior party minister has been made to step down on corruption charges.
Congress was a divided house when it came to taking political advantage of this. While state Congress chief Ashok Chavan and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan demanded a probe into the allegations following Khadse’s resignation, former chief minister Narayan Rane alleged that there was a conspiracy against Khadse as he belonged to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) community. He blamed chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for Khadse’s situation.
The strength of the Congress and the NCP was badly hit in the last assembly polls as the BJP succeeded in convincing people that both parties were corrupt. Consequently, the Congress’s tally was reduced to 42 from 83 seats in 2009 and the NCP’s tally reduced to 41 from 63 seats. The parties are yet to fully recover from the defeat. Khadse’s resignation has brought about an opportunity for the two parties to hit back at the BJP.
Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said Khadse’s resignation was inevitable as the proof was immense, particularly in the land deal. “His link to Dawood Ibrahim is also very serious. However, nobody seems to be talking about it,” he pointed out.
“Links to Dawood is a matter of national security and therefore the National Security Advisor (NSA) or the union home minister should comment on it. Was he part of Dawood’s network which conducted betting and extortion rackets in Mumbai? Was he providing them with political protection? If so, serious action should be taken,” he said.
“There must be a judicial probe into all the allegations made so far,” said Chavan.
However, Rane had a different take on the development. “Without conducting a probe, removing Khadse f rom the cabinet is improper. OBCs in the BJP have been targeted,” Rane said, criticizing t he BJP for its action against Khadse.
Congress ally NCP has a different view of the matter. Former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said that the media made Khadse resign.