Don't take me for granted, Eknath Khadse tells BJP
While the Congress may face rebellion in Ahmednagar from none other than the son of opposition leader Vikhe-Patil
Defections ahead of polls are an inseparable part of Indian politics. Leaders switch sides either because of resentment against the party they are part of, or because they see better prospects in the party that they choose to join. One such leader, Eknath Khadse, who is apparently not happy with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), seems to have issued a veiled threat to the party leadership, that he should not be taken for granted.
Another leader, Dr Sujay Vikhe-Patil, an emerging one, who seeks a Congress ticket from Ahmednagar, told the media that it was not compulsory for him to stick to his father's party. Sujay is the son of opposition leader in the Assembly and Congress veteran, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who wants the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to vacate its claim on a seat to facilitate his son's candidature from the Congress. If the demand is not met, Sujay may join the BJP, said sources close to the family.
Congress calling Khadse
Khadse quit the state Cabinet after corruption charges almost three years ago. His supporters in the BJP feel that he was meted out injustice because the ministers who faced similar corruption charges were protected and despite getting a clean chit from the judicial commission, he wasn't re-inducted in the Devendra Fadnavis' council of ministers.
Dr Sujay Vikhe-Patil
It was this resentment that Khadse has vented out time and again. But on Tuesday, he told a gathering of the influential community of Leva Patils in Bhusaval that no leader was bound by a particular party. He said he should not be taken for granted and the leaders should not assume that he might not quit his party in future. Khadse was responding to Congress leader Ulhas Patil's open offer to join his party, because the BJP had been treating him very badly. Earlier, state Congress president Ashok Chavan too had invited Khadse.
Khadse appealed to his community to stick together to fight against injustice and put on a show of strength so that its importance is noticed. "Politics should not come in the way of one's personal struggle against injustice. Be it Khadse or Patil, we both are not bound by our parties. No leader can be in the same party for his lifetime," Khadse said.
Coup in Ahmednagar?
People in the know said if Khadse switches side, the Leva Patils would be a deciding factor in at least 25 Assembly segments. The Vikhe-Patils are trying all tricks to ensure a Lok Sabha ticket for Sujay, whose mother heads the local zilla Parishad as a Congress nominee. Sujay's grandfather and great grandfather too were politicians of higher repute. His father and grandfather were once in the Shiv Sena.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event, Sujay told media persons that it was not compulsory for him to be part of the Congress. "Both my father and mother are in the Congress by their choice. And I am free to make my own choice. A family can have members who are affiliated to different parties," he said. However, the seat that Sujay is demanding may not be conceded by NCP because of a prolonged feud that his family has with its boss Sharad Pawar. Sources said if at all the Congress convinces Pawar, then the NCP will want a far more suitable seat elsewhere.
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