Former Maharashtra minister Eknath Khadse, who recently tendered his resignation from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to join the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), said on Thursday, 22 October, that his party rendered him useless after he put in 35 years of hard work in the state.
In an interview with The Quint, the Other Backward Class (OBC) leader from Jalgaon district of North Maharashtra, who represented the Muktainagar Assembly seat for six consecutive terms till 2019, alleged that former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis “destroyed his life” to prevent him from assuming the state’s top post.
“Devendra ji perceived me as a threat and wanted to ensure I do not become the chief minister and he therefore destroyed my life. Even after serving 35 years in the party, I did not have any such desire. All I wanted was to work for the people. However, he (Fadnavis) instructed the police to file an FIR against me on false allegation of harassment by a woman. I was told the FIR would be withdrawn later. I was then made a scapegoat over corruption allegations, where I came out clean,” Khadse, who was initially groomed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker Ashok Phadke in Jalgaon.
The tallest OBC leader in Maharashtra after the demise of Gopinath Munde, Khadse further claimed none of the BJP leaders tried to contact him since he was asked to resign from the BJP-led government in 2016.
"“I had been rendered useless by my own party, for which I worked hard for 35 years. The first call I received was two days back from Chandrakant dada (Patil) to ask me why was I resigning. All this would not have happened had there been any communication from the BJP earlier when I kept voicing my grievances,” he said. "
Fadnavis, while speaking to the media in New Delhi on Wednesday, had termed Khadse’s allegations against him as “half truth” and that he would speak at the right time.
“It is unfortunate that he resigned. He should not have resigned. As far as his allegation against me is concerned, he’s speaking half-truth. He could have complained against me to seniors. At this moment I won’t speak much on it but I will speak at the right time,” the former CM had said.
Commenting over Fadnavis’s statement, Khadse said that he has been time and again asking the former chief minister to tell him where he went wrong.
“Let him (Fadnavis) choose a time he seems appropriate to speak against me. I know there is nothing that he can say. Not just to the media, but I have asked him to tell me where I went wrong in the state Assembly as well. I had even offered to apologise to him if he thought I did something wrong. If he could not answer me in the assembly, what will he say now?” Khadse, who was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1990 from Edlabad constituency in Jalgaon, said.
Asked to comment on his decision on joining the NCP, Khadse said he did so on party workers demands.
“My workers wanted me to be a part of the NCP and the state government so that development works could continue,” he said and added that he had no talks with NCP chief Sharad Pawar about joining his party before tendering his resignation from the BJP.
“I do not have any ambition to become a minister even after joining the NCP,” Khadse said.
Notably, while Khadse was denied a party ticket to contest the state elections in 2019, his daughter-in-law Raksha had fought the Lok Sabha polls on a BJP ticket and won.
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