Senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse has declared another round of battle against former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. The reason for the protest, which is being voiced through small public functions organised by the leader, is to seek what he calls is “justice” and “self pride”.
“I have to take my battle to the public because the party turned deaf ears to my repeated pleas and complaints. Both the state and central leaderships are not even ready to give me audience. In such a situation, the only option is to seek justice from Junta Darbar,” he told The Indian Express.
Khadse’s biggest allegation is that Fadnavis systemically sidelined him because he was a potential frontrunner for the chief minister’s post. The former minister from Jalgaon said, “We had the most efficient dry cleaner CM in Devendra Fadnavis. There were serious scams against several Cabinet ministers. But he used his skills to give them clean chit within months.”
“In my case, I was framed for no fault and yet there was no clean chit from Fadnavis,” he claimed.
The regular outbursts of Khadse – who had to resign as minister following land grab allegations – since September 3, seems to have rattled the BJP, with the matter being reported to party national president J P Nadda.
“I am not bargaining for any power or post. I want my name cleared of corruption charges, as they are fabricated. I cannot live the rest of my life as a tainted leader.”
Secondly, he said, he wants to bring to the notice of the BJP that it has lost power in the state because of “avoidable” mistakes.
“What was the rationale of denying Assembly poll tickets to sitting MLAs? I was dropped from Muktainagar. Instead, my daughter Rohini was fielded. But insiders worked to defeat her. Someone will have to own up to these mistakes that cost the party,” he added.
Khadse is also whipping up support among the OBCs with his one liner – “I, from the OBCs, was a claimant for the CM’s post.”
Within the party, Khadse’s renewed aggression is being seen as a plot to undermine the political growth of Fadnavis. A senior BJP leader said, “Fadnavis’ ability to retain his leadership in the party after losing the state has disturbed Khadse. Many in the organisation had hoped Fadnavis would be reined in by the central leadership and there would be a new party leadership in the state.”
On Friday, Fadnavis responded to the charges. “Fortunately, I have a lot of patience. I don’t like to wash dirty linen in public. These are old baseless accusations, which state and central leaders are well versed with. Therefore, nobody is taking any cognizance.”
Officially, nobody in the party has come out in Khadse’s support. “Had there been anybody else in my place, they would have quit the party. I had offers too. But I am emotionally attached to BJP,” said Khadse.
His daughter-in-law Raksha Khadse is a MP from Raver. In the 2019 Assembly polls, Khadse was replaced by his daughter Rohini, who was fielded from Muktainagar in Jalgaon. But she lost. In the newly-constituted state BJP team, Raksha has been given the vice-president post. The BJP believes this is compensation enough.
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