Eknath Khadse's supporters, who had been complaining that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis did not come to their leader's rescue when allegations were being levelled against him, should now be satisfied. On Saturday, Fadnavis cleared the air from the BJP's official platform in Pune telling the party's executive that not a single allegation against his former cabinet colleague was true.
(Centre) Eknath Khadse and (right) CM Devendra Fadnavis
The CM's revelation can be seen as a step ahead in rehabilitating the ex-revenue minister who had to quit on June 4 in the wake of allegations of land grabbing and of receiving phone calls from fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim's house in Karachi.
However, Fadnavis declared that the BJP did not sack Khadse, but it was he (Khadse) who volunteered to quit because he wanted to stay away from his office while the charges were being probed. Khadse was present on the dais when Fadnavis spoke his mind. It was Khadse's first party programme after quitting the Cabinet in which he was number two after the CM.
The CM said Khadse quit only because of MIDC land case in which he wanted a free and fair investigation. The CM had announced that a retired judge of Bombay High Court will probe the allegations. The government has not appointed anyone yet.
Other than Khadse, Fadnavis gave a clean chit to water resources minister Girish Mahajan, accused of grabbing a piece of land in Jalgaon district. The CM also referred to earlier cases in which the opposition had targeted his Cabinet colleagues Pankaja Munde, Girish Bapat and Vinod Tawde. He said that the allegations against state BJP president Raosaheb Danve that he purchased a land reserved for the poor was also false.
"This government is doing a good job. The opposition cannot convince the people that we are doing a bad job, and hence they are confusing the people with frivolous charges against our ministers," said Fadnavis. He challenged the Congress-NCP ministers to return the land that they have been accused of grabbing by the CAG.
"You return that land first and then speak against us," he said, adding, "We will go home the day we are found guilty of corrupt practices." He appealed to the BJP workers to declare a war on the opposition by digging out irregularities that were committed in the Congress-NCP regime. "The opposition is making a deliberate effort to defame the BJP and hence we must take out to streets and tell them that we will not take any further nonsense," he said.