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At his sprawling seaside bungalow, Ramtek, at Malabar Hills, the sound of lashing waves break the unusual calm inside. Seated in his office four hours after his resignation, Eknath Khadse is trying to come to terms with the political uncertainty ahead.
Moving away from politics for a moment, he breaks into a devotional hymn, saying, “Takuni dile bhaara, devacha darri, jhalo nishchinta aata, Vittala”. Translated, it means “I’ve handed over all my responsibilities to Lord Vitthal and I have nothing to worry”.
The seniormost minister holding 10 important portfolios, including revenue and agriculture, reckons that the developments that led to his resignation does not auger well for his political career. His is keen to get rid of the taints, for as an Opposition leader for over a decade, he had fought fiercely against corruption in the Congress-NCP government. So it is an irony that Khadse himself is now battling corruption charges, that have not only dented his own image but also the party’s.
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What is notable is, majority of the issues which he raised as Opposition leader related to land scams in theprevious regime. And it appears life has come a full circle for the leader, whose exit from the government was linked to violations in land deal.
“I am not worried about ministerial post. My concern relates to what message it would send to OBC,” he said. “As my followers will never question me on charges of corruption. After all, I have been in politics for 40 years and helped the organisation.”
“Moreover, I have nothing to complain against the party or the government. They have all stood by me and supported me. But I am deeply anguished by the media trial,” he said. Khadse’s followers are preparing to take to the streets to protest his resignation. A close aide of Khadse said, “We are getting calls from our followers who want to resort to violence and protests.” But Khadse has asked them to remain calm.
Always perceived as a loyalist of late Gopinath Munde, Khadse’s political rise from sarpanch to seniormost minister in the government spans over four decades. He represents Muktainagar assembly constituency in Jalgaon district in North Maharashtra. While reiterating he has done no wrong, he points to an old picture of Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his shelf, saying, “Well, Atalji would always say – ‘jo bhi hua, accha hua’. I take the developments in that spirit.”