Now, allegations of land grab against another Maharashtra minister

After former Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, allegations of land grab have surfaced against another BJP leader and state minister Girish Mahajan, with Congress today accusing him of "forcibly" acquiring land in Jalgaon district in 2002 under the pretext of setting up a sugar mill.

Congress also alleged that the Water Conservation Minister purposefully kept the "illegal" land deal under wraps and did not disclose it in his electoral affidavits.

The party threatened to approach court against Mahajan, seeking his disqualification as an MLA for "concealing the details of his land ownership from election affidavits in subsequent Assembly elections (after 2002)".

Meanwhile, the NCP said Mahajan has "no moral or legal right to continue as minister after a series of misappropriations".

Addressing reporters here, MPCC spokesperson Sachin Sawant alleged that "in 2002, Mahajan, along with Khadse, forcibly and illegally acquired around 5 acres of land at Mangaon village in Bhusawal taluka in Jalgaon district under the garb of starting a cooperative sugar mill, which never came up".

The Congress leader alleged the land deal was executed without taking permission from the then government. "If he (Mahajan) wanted to start a sugar mill, why was the land transferred in his name? On top of it, this is 'Mahar vatan' land, which cannot be transferred without the government's permission, which in this case was not taken," Sawant alleged.

'Watan' lands are 'inam' (gift from a ruler to a subject) for service. The term is generally used in a wider sense to denote any alienation in land with or without service.

NCP MLC Kiran Pawaskar said the Congress should instead move court against Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for "shielding" Mahajan. "This is not the first time Mahajan has been accused of indulging in wrongdoings. Firstly, he has violated his oath that he took before becoming a minister by keeping illegal property in his name. Also, he is a habitual offender. There was no action taken against him when he had once carried a revolver while visiting students in school," he said.

Pawaskar said that Mahajan has no right to continue as minister. "Such a person has no right to be a minister. Either the CM takes immediate action against him or the Congress, instead of approaching the court against Mahajan, should instead do so against Fadnavis for shielding and not taking action against his errant minister," Pawaskar said.

When contacted for his reaction, Mahajan merely said that he could not recall clearly whether he had purchased any such land.

Khadse had resigned recently over allegations of graft and conflict of interest in the purchase of land in Pune district in name of his kin.

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