Ex-minister Eknath Khadse snubbed, returns empty-handed from Delhi

Mumbai, June 10: Senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse, who stepped down recently as Revenue Minister following a string of allegations, on Friday made a futile bid to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval as well as senior party leaders in New Delhi.

Khadse is also facing a probe by ATS in connection with his mobile number purportedly figuring in the call records of the landline number of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s residence in Karachi.

However, barring Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, other senior party leaders declined the audience with the heavyweight politician from North Maharashtra who went to Delhi on Friday with the documents to present his case before the party leadership.

A Maharashtra BJP leader said here that Khadse tried to meet Modi who has returned from his five-nation tour, but without success.

“The party has already begun to groom Khadse’s arch rival in Jalgaon district and state Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan to head the party in the district,” he said.

BJP is more concerned now to ensure the party’s victory in upcoming elections to Zill Parishad, Municipal Councils and Panchayat Samitis in Jalgaon district.

The party has a sizable support among the dominant Leva Patil community in Chopda, Yaval, Faizpur, Savda and Raver municipal councils, in Jalgaon Zilla Parishad and across panchayat samitis in the region.

According to the BJP leader, the major worry for the saffron party is the clout enjoyed by Khadse in the region which was reflected in the recent move by 14 corporators from Jalgaon Municipal Corporation who threatened to resign in protest against Khadse’s unceremonious exit as minister.

“In order to replace Khadse, a OBC leader from the region, we have directed Mahajan to be proactive in the party matters in Jalgaon district,” he said.

The first indication that Mahajan is being directed to fill the vacuum in Khadse’s absence came early this week when he was dispatched to state BJP headquarters near Mantralaya to deal with a motley group of Khadse’s supporters who had come to protest against their leader’s ouster.

Khadse resigned last week, days after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis submitted a detailed report to BJP president Amit Shah on the controversies surrounding the minister and also met Modi in the national capital.

Earlier, he had deputed his daughter-in-law and BJP MP from Raver, Raksha Khadse who had met Modi to argue the case on his behalf.

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