Mumbai: NCP leader and former Maharashtra minister Eknath Khadse on Thursday alleged that the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) inquiry against him in connection with a Pune land deal case was a conspiracy to defame him.
Talking to reporters outside the ED’s office here, Khadse also claimed that the inquiry against him was started because he quit the BJP.
“This is a conspiracy to defame me,” he said.
“I have earlier appeared for the inquiry five times. The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had filed a C-summary report in a Pune Court that there is no truth in the allegations and the case be closed,” he said.
Khadse further said the Bhosari land deal (in Pune) was a private transaction between his son-in-law and a private owner, and the land did not belong to the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC).
“This is a political conspiracy to target me and I will face it. I will cooperate with the ED,” the former state minister said.
Khadse appeared before the ED in connection with its probe into the money laundering case on Thursday, a day after his son-in-law Girish Chaudhari was arrested by the federal agency.
The ED has alleged that Chaudhary and Khadse had purchased government land in Bhosari near Pune for Rs 3.75 crore when the actual cost of the land as per the valuation provided by the sub-registrar was Rs 31.01 crore.
The agency said it appears that Khadse, the then revenue minister, by misusing his official position, had “coerced and forced” the officials concerned to facilitate the purchase of the MIDC land by his family in Bhosari.
The ED also said the probe into the case shows the source of funds for the purchase of land is “not genuine” and the money has been routed through various companies.
Khadse, 68, left the BJP to join the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Sharad Pawar last year. He was questioned in the case by the ED earlier this year.
He had resigned from the then Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra cabinet in 2016 after facing allegations regarding the same land deal.
Khadse denied any wrongdoing, saying the Maharashtra ACB, as well as the Income Tax department, had given him a clean chit in the matter.
Also read: Eknath Khadse — Fadnavis’ arch rival who rose from local worker to BJP’s No.2 in Maharashtra