Khadse sulks after CM says Rane will join Maharashtra Cabinet, but says he will not quit BJP

Senior BJP leader, however, says he has got offers to join both the Congress and the NCP

mumbai Updated: Dec 21, 2017 10:07 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times
Eknath Khadse,Narayan Rane,BJP
The former revenue minister skipped the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) meet meant for all BJP legislators on Wednesday.(HT File Photo)

A day after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis indicated that former Congress leader Narayan Rane would get a seat in his Cabinet, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Eknath Khadse expressed his unhappiness at being left out of power and being “targeted” in his public life.

He also skipped the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) meet meant for all BJP legislators on Wednesday, triggering speculation that the former revenue minister was rebelling against the party.

Khadse later clarified to the media he had skipped the meeting owing to health reasons.

“I have worked in the BJP for 40 years. I have contributed to getting the party into power, increasing its base in Maharashtra, besides shepherding the next generation of leaders in the Assembly when we were out of power. Why should I leave the party now?” he told HT, when asked during a phone conversation whether he was planning to quit the party.

He, however, did admit that both the Congress and the NCP, in jest and sometimes seriously, have made him offers to join their parties, given his political experience.

This week, a Congress legislator from Amravati, Yashomati Thakur, publicly asked him in state legislature whether he would be willing to join the ranks of her party.

“People ask me if I want to join as I have been in politics for four decades now...They also ask me how long I will tolerate the insults and slights,” he said.

Khadse’s remarks come after reports of Rane meeting the CM on Tuesday evening. After this meeting, the CM told reporters that a Cabinet reshuffle would take place soon and that they needed experienced leaders like Rane and Khadse. “There is no need for the Shiv Sena to oppose Rane’s induction because he would get inducted through the BJP’s quota,” Fadnavis had said.

“I am not unhappy with my party. That is just the media’s interpretation. But I have been targeted by allegations that have no substance. It was a systematic attack within my one year of taking over as a revenue minister and it has destroyed 40 years of my political work. There are some people who have been plotting against me ,” he added.

Khadse said taking him back into the cabinet was solely Fadnavis’ prerogative as was the tabling of the Dinkar Zoting Commission inquiry report that had probed into his alleged wrongdoing in the land deal.

Khadse, who held the number two position in the Fadnavis cabinet, was asked to resign following allegations of conflict of interest and graft that cropped up against him in a Pune land deal case in 2016. (There were also allegations of disproportionate assets against him and about him having links with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, when he was asked to step down.)

He, however, said the report had little relevance now because the anti-corruption bureau had already initiated an inquiry against him.

“I have gone through multiple rounds of the ACB inquiry, besides an income-tax inquiry and they have found nothing so far. That far-fetched allegation about me having a connection with Dawood has also been found to be untrue.”

First Published: Dec 21, 2017 10:07 IST