Shiv Sena leader pulls the land from under Eknath Khadse's feet

Subhash Desai says the plot in Pune had been taken over by MIDC in 1962

The going just got tougher for Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, who is facing — among multiple allegations — the charge that his family purchased a 3-acre land in Bhosari, Pune, that had been long acquired by the state to set up industries.

Khadse’s wife, Mandakini, and son-in-law Dattaram Chaudhari, bought a 3-acre plot in the MIDC Estate in Pune for Rs 3.75 crore from a businessman on April 27 this year
Khadse’s wife, Mandakini, and son-in-law Dattaram Chaudhari, bought a 3-acre plot in the MIDC Estate in Pune for Rs 3.75 crore from a businessman on April 27 this year

On Monday, the BJP’s ally, the Shiv Sena, too, decided to weaken Khadse’s defence. Industries Minister and senior Sena leader Subhash Desai told reporters that the land in question was taken over by MIDC in 1962 and was also allotted to various industries.

“The MIDC cannot do anything in this regard because the land was possessed in 1962 (from private land owners) and distributed for setting up industries there in the MIDC Estate. Factories are being run there now,” Desai said.

He said the MIDC had already sold the said land as per its rules of allotment for factories. “The MIDC doesn’t need to prove anything in court. People who got land there are operating their industrial units.”

Desai’s stern stand is seen as his party’s aggressive approach towards Khadse, who had been instrumental in breaking the alliance between the Sena and the BJP in 2014. Khadse is most vocal against the Sena, and has accused Sena leaders in his home district of helping the opposition level a series of allegations against him.

BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said Desai didn’t have proper information on acquisition of the disputed plot. “If the land was purchased by the MIDC, then it should produce transaction details. Where has that money gone? In fact, the land wasn’t in the MIDC’s possession.”

Barring this defence and a few lean voices, no major leader from the party has come forward to speak in favour of Khadse. “The case is very difficult to defend because of its nature. You cannot convince people that the minister has not facilitated this deal by using his office,” said a senior BJP leader.

Senior BJP leaders see the land purchase case as more damaging for Khadse and the party than the allegations over the calls made from Dawood.

The case
Khadse’s wife, Mandakini, and son-in-law Dattaram Chaudhari bought the land from Abbas Ukani on April 27 this year for Rs 3.75 crore. Earlier, Ukani had moved the High Court and approached the revenue department (headed by Khadse) to seek higher compensation from the government. He sold the land to Khadse’s family even as the case was pending.

The minister is accused of holding a meeting of the MIDC and revenue officers to know the status of the case before the purchase deal was registered. Hemant Gawande, who brought the land deal into light, has alleged that the minister’s family would now claim at least Rs 100 crore in compensation as per new land acquisition law.

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