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Ghar wapsi for Eknath Khadse

Updated on: 08 April,2024 06:53 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dharmendra Jore |

Senior leader who toiled hard to bring ‘acche din’ in state but fell out with BJP over an alleged corruption case will be inducted into party again in Delhi

Ghar wapsi for Eknath Khadse

Eknath Khadse at his Muktainagar residence in Jalgaon in 2019. File pic

Dharmendra JorePolitics in Maharashtra has Eknath Khadse will prove to be the BJP’s prodigal son, when he returns home any day of the coming week, ahead of the first phase of Lok Sabha polling in Maharashtra. For, he needs the BJP, and the BJP needs him at a juncture when every seat is important in its run-up to retaining the New Delhi throne. The BJP has accepted controversial figures into its fold over the past decade, many from Maharashtra in recent times. So, taking Khadse back does not appear to be an issue. After all, he is the party’s own, the senior most in 2014, who had toiled hard to bring the BJP ‘acche din’ in Maharashtra. Barely into the second year of his high-profile Cabinet minister’s office, he was in charge of over a dozen departments in the Devendra Fadnavis government, but he fell out with the party, the state leadership in particular, over an alleged corruption case. He was asked to quit the Cabinet in the latter part of 2016.

Khadse’s woes didn’t end there. While he and his family faced probe agencies and courts, he was denied a ticket in the 2019 Assembly polls. His daughter Rohini was fielded instead. She lost the election by only 2,000 votes. A year later, Khadse quit the BJP to join the undivided NCP in the soaring heat of October 2020. The MVA government was in power. He was made an MLC and expected even more in political rehabilitation from his new party boss Sharad Pawar. The party he was part of, was thrown out of power soon, and later split into two. Khadse stared at a blank future again, but not for very long. The equations changed in the state BJP. Some of his friends found a place of pride at the top in New Delhi’s party organisation. Meanwhile, tainted figures, who faced more serious cases than Khadse, were drafted as allies to consolidate the BJP’s 2019 campaign. That seems to have upped the chances of Khadse’s comeback despite his detractors’ reservations. Some local opponents from his home district Jalgaon have sensed the insecurity Khadse would bring to them when he formally gets inducted in the party fold. They will not be able to do much about it, but only cringe. It’s once and for all when the BJP high command decides.

Khadse confirmed his comeback to the BJP while speaking to reporters on Saturday. Unlike other leaders, he will not return at a function to be held in Mumbai. He said the induction will take place in Delhi. The party’s national leaders are expected to accord him due respect by drafting him ceremoniously in their presence in New Delhi. The function in Delhi may come as an excuse for those from Maharashtra who would want to skip the function. It is learnt that Khadse, who had conveyed to Sharad Pawar his unwillingness to contest the Lok Sabha election as NCP’s candidate, was duly consulted by the BJP leadership before they fielded his daughter-in-law and two-time BJP MP from Raver, Raksha Khadse, again from the same constituency. Raksha had remained in the BJP while her father-in-law and the rest of the family were affiliated with the NCP. Khadse’s approval meant brightening Raksha’s winning prospects and granting the senior leader much-needed respect. The former minister will soon be campaigning formally for Raksha, and sharing the dais with BJP leaders in rallies for other candidates. People close to him said even if his health doesn’t allow him the rigours of a summer campaign, Khadse is expected to contribute his share in the best possible manner.

In Maharashtra’s politics, Khadse’s comeback resurfaces a pertinent question about his much-practised friction with former CM, incumbent DCM and party’s state team captain, Devendra Fadnavis. Not much is being heard in the BJP circles, except for an observation that much water had flown under the bridge.

Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore
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