Ajit Pawar faces allegations, should not have allied with him: BJP leader Eknath Khadse
Senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse on Wednesday seemed to once again question his party’s decision to take support from the NCP’s Ajit Pawar to form the short-lived government in Maharashtra.
Eknath Khadse, who is known to be a political rival of Devendra Fadnavis, pointed at the allegations of corruption, especially in the irrigation scam, against Ajit Pawar.
“My personal opinion is that BJP should not have taken the support of Ajit Dada Pawar. He is an accused in the massive irrigation scam and faces many allegations, so we should not have allied with him,” Eknath Khadse said while speaking to reporters.
“One should have not taken his support,” Khadse, who had resigned from the Fadnavis cabinet as finance and agriculture minister in 2016 following graft charges, said.
The senior BJP leader was referring to the Rs 70,000 crore irrigation scam, which relates to alleged corruption in approval of irrigation projects during the Congress-NCP rule. The NCP, which had controlled the department, and Pawar had come under the scanner.
And, nine cases pertaining to the alleged scam during Ajit Pawar’s tenure as the state’s irrigation minister were closed by the state’s anti-corruption bureau on Monday.
The closure of case came two days after Ajit Pawar went against his uncle and NCP chief Sharad Pawar to extend support to the BJP.
The ACB has, however, insisted that there was no connection between Ajit Pawar taking oath as deputy chief minister and the closing of the corruption cases.
On Tuesday, Khadse had called the alliance with Ajit Pawar a “last resort” after Fadnavis resigned in the afternoon as the Maharashtra chief minister within 80 hours of taking the oath.
Before that, Ajit Pawar had put in his papers after he could not muster the required support.
“The mandate was for BJP-Sena that didn’t work. So, this alliance with Ajit Pawar was only a compromise and a last resort to save the chief minister’s post and our government. What happened was unfortunate and people did not like this decision,” Khadse had said.
The fall of the four-day-old government came hours after the Supreme Court ordered a floor test by 5pm on Wednesday, and paved the way for an opposition coalition of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress — the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi — stake claim to power.
Earlier in the day, Fadnavis refused to spell out if it was a mistake on his part to ally with Ajit Pawar.
“I will say the right thing at the right time, don’t worry,” Fadnavis told reporters outside the Maharashtra assembly.