The ‘aide’ of State Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, who was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Friday, was sent to one more day of police custody, after cops requested for it. Gajanan Patil was arrested near Mantralaya and was initially remanded to two days of custody.
Patil is accused of demanding a bribe of Rs 30 crore from an economist, Dr Ramesh Jadhav, a former director with the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management, for settling a land dispute.
Jadhav, trustee of International Society for Excellence (coaching NGO), had purchased 37 hectares of land in Nilje village in Kalyan from the previous Congress government in 2009. The land was eventually allotted to the State transport department for vehicle maintenance in 2014. Jadhav wanted a review of the government decision, as well as an NOC from the revenue department, Khadse’s office. That is where Patil stepped in.
“Patil initially demanded Rs 1 crore and a flat from Jadhav to get a positive order from the revenue department. Later the amount went up to Rs 15 crore and then finally to Rs 30 crore,” said an ACB source.
Since the case involves an influential politician, the ACB sleuths are tight-lipped about it. Repeated attempts to contact DGP Satish Mathur from the ACB went in vain.
‘Just a party worker’
Eknath Khadse has distanced himself from this issue, saying that Patil was just a party worker in his constituency — Muktainagar in Jalgaon. He further said, “If he has misused my name and is found guilty, strict action should be taken against him.”
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, meanwhile, has issued a statement saying that investigation in the case will be carried out in a fair manner and the guilty will not be spared.
Opposition party NCP has demanded that Khadse’s Officer on special duty, Unmesh Mahajan, should also be arrested, since his name was mentioned in a complaint filed by Jadhav seven months ago.