Shiv Sena minister keeps up attack on Eknath Khadse

Stepping up his attack on senior BJP leader and Maharashtra revenue minister Eknath Khadse, Shiv Sena legislator and minister of state for the department Sanjay Rathod today claimed he had been stripped of all his quasi-judicial powers.

"Khadse says the job of allocation of gift land to temples and tribals will not be given to me because anti-corruption bureau is probing some decisions of the previous minister. Then why has he kept the powers with himself? Instead he should have passed them on to the principal secretary," said Rathod, a three-time legislator from Digras in Yavatmal district.

Rathod said he was a legislator and had a big following. "Will I do anything wrong which will harm my image among my electorate? Why should Khadse doubt my credentials? I am not asking for the cases which are being probed by the ACB," he said, speaking to reporters.

As a junior minister he had no powers except technical and administrative approvals, the Sena leader said.

"Files related to these approvals number about 25 to 30 a year. I am not interested in moving around in red-beacon car without any powers. I have told Uddhavji (Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray) that I will not be able to function in this way," Rathod said, but denied that he had handed his resignation to Thackeray.

"If ACB is probing the temple land allocation, why has Khadse taken up the issue? How many files regarding permissions for allocation of land to tribals he has cleared if the matter is subjudice?" he said.

As a minister of state, Rathod claimed, he had not signed a single file regarding any hearing, and Khadse had scrapped decisions of all the hearings he had conducted.

"I have not asked for any additional powers. I only wanted that the existing powers of the minister of state be retained. I also wanted powers to hear appeal up to five acres of land. Since all quasi-judicial powers have been taken away from me, 80 per cent of work has decreased," Rathod said.

Thackeray had taken the issue seriously and deputed the party's Rajya Sabha MP, Anil Desai, to sort it out, he said.

When asked, Desai said the issue would be resolved in a few days. "I met the state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve and a co-ordination committee (of BJP and Sena) will soon be set up," he added.

Meanwhile, state Congress president Manikrao Thakre said the BJP-led government had failed miserably to fulfil aspirations of farmers, labourers and the poor. "The anger of Shiv Sena, a junior partner in the government, is coming out now," Manikrao said, referring to Rathod's tirade.

"Shiv Sena is also aware that the government has not been able to help drought-stricken farmers. Also, the Sena's pressure on BJP in such a manner has to do with BJP's defeat in the Delhi Assembly elections," the Congress leader said.

The tension between the ruling allies has been simmering especially after Uddhav Thackeray's jibe at BJP over AAP's victory in Delhi.

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