Not in the mood to contest polls: Eknath Khadse

Venting his anger at being sidelined yet again, Khadse — who was once the number two in Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ Cabinet — said he had been targeted unfairly, and that he was fed up of politics.

BJP veteran and former state minister Eknath Khadse said on Friday that he was not inclined to contest the 2019 Assembly polls in Maharashtra.

Venting his anger at being sidelined yet again, Khadse — who was once the number two in Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ Cabinet — said he had been targeted unfairly, and that he was fed up of politics.

Khadse, a six-time MLA from Jalgaon’s Muktainagar, enjoys considerable clout in North Maharashtra. He is also a prominent OBC face of the party.

In June 2016, Khadse had to resign from the Fadnavis cabinet amid allegations of graft and misuse of office in a Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) land deal in Pune. In 2017, a committee, headed by (retired) judge Dinkar Zoting, which was appointed by CM Fadnavis to probe allegations against Khadse, submitted its report, but it was never made public.

The Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau has also registered an FIR against Khadse in the same case. Investigation in the matter is still going on.

Khadse has been demanding that the Zoting committee report be made public and has been repeatedly taking veiled digs at Fadnavis.

On Friday, too, Khadse said that he knew who was targeting him. He recounted how he had strived hard to expand the party’s base in Maharashtra over the last three decades, and said it was sad to see how he was being treated now.

But while there have been some speculations of Khadse switching over to the Congress, the BJP leader has denied it vehemently. On Friday, he was present at the party’s national convention in Delhi. Khadse’s daughter-in-law Raksha is BJP’s sitting MP from the Raver Lok Sabha constituency in North Maharashtra. Khadse said on Friday that his focus at the moment was to ensure Raksha’s re-election from the constituency, should the BJP nominate her for the seat.

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