Revenue minister and BJP leader Eknath Khadse, whose resignation is being demanded by the Opposition after an “aide” of his was arrested for demanding a bribe, is now besieged with another controversy as his son-in-law is being accused of possession of an illegally modified limousine.
Social activist Anjali Damania on Tuesday alleged that the limousine needed to be seized at the earliest.
“It is illegal to have a limousine in Maharashtra because 10 such limousines have been seized till date. However, the car was brought to Jalgaon where Khadse virtually runs an empire. This should be seized,” said Damania.
According to RTO sources, the 20-metre-long limousine allegedly used by Khadse’s son-in-law Pranjal Khewalkar, was originally registered at Thane RTO on November 26, 2001. It was modified by then owner, an Andheri-based businessman, who illegally converted a Hyundai Sonata car into a limousine by spending Rs 25 lakh on it.
In 2011, when the RTO scrapped many limousines, it was moved to Haryana and registered there. In September 27, 2012, it was again brought back to Jalgaon and is at present registered under the name of Pranjal Manish Khewalkar residing at 340, New Colony, Muktainagar, taluka in Jalgaon district.
Khadse rubbished the allegations saying the car was not a limousine but a Hyundai Sonata. Denying any influence, he said, “My daughter got married to him in 2013 so how can I be held responsible for whatever Khewalkar had done before 2013?” he asked.
The car was not in a working condition for the past one-and-a-half years, he said. Khadse warned Damania of filing a defamation suit against her if she did not tender a public apology.
Meanwhile, the Congress petitioned the Anti-Corruption Bureau asking for the immediate arrest of Unmesh Mahajan, Khadse’s officer on special duty, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) demanded a court-monitored probe following arrest of one Gajanan Patil who had demanded Rs 30 crore from a landowner for a revenue department-related work. The Opposition has alleged that Patil is an aide of Khadse. Sachin Sawant, the spokesperson of Maharashtra Congress, said they had no faith in Fadnavis-appointed probes. “Here every minister involved in a scam is given a clean chit by Fadnavis. Mahajan needs to be arrested immediately to get all the details,” said Sawant.
Similarly, Preeti Sharma Menon, the national spokesperson of AAP, has demanded Khadse’s resignation too.
“If the bribes were taken in the revenue department, the minister needs to take responsibility. We want a court-monitored investigation in the matter,” said Menon.
State BJP president Raosaheb Danve came out in support of its senior leader on Tuesday.
Danve said baseless allegations have been made against Khadse. “The party is standing beside Khadse with full strength,” Danve said.