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Angry BJP leader Eknath Khadse meets Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar for plum job

Khadse had to resign from the Devendra Fadnavis govt on corruption charges, and has been sidelined by BJP. He is said to want the revenue portfolio.

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Mumbai: Disgruntled Maharashtra BJP leader Eknath Khadse met Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar Wednesday, apparently to explore the possibility of switching sides and landing a plum job in the new alliance government.

But neither the Shiv Sena nor the NCP may be able to promise him anything significant immediately, as both parties are struggling to satisfy the ministerial aspirations of leaders in their own parties, sources said.

The meetings took place in Nagpur, where Thackeray is attending the winter session of the Maharashtra legislature and Pawar is meeting his party’s MLAs and MLCs.

NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik confirmed that Khadse had met Pawar, saying it was a personal visit and that Khadse hadn’t decided to join any party.

“The way he has been treated in the BJP, he looks demoralised. He is in a different state of mind,” said Malik.

Also read: OBC-Brahmin divide weighs on BJP, 15 Maharashtra MLAs ‘in talks with Sena-NCP-Congress’

Who is Khadse?

Khadse is an OBC leader and a former minister in the Maharashtra government, with a sizeable mass base in Jalgaon. Sources said Khadse is willing to go with either party, but he wants the revenue portfolio, which neither the Sena nor the NCP or their third partner, the Congress, are willing to agree to.

Additionally, Khadse would need to be elected to either the assembly or the legislative council, and neither party has members retiring from the legislative council in the immediate future. Thackeray, who isn’t a member of either House, needs to be elected within six months, and Pawar is not keen on enforcing an additional cost on the exchequer.

Khadse has been sidelined by the BJP, which has ignored his mass base. However, he is keen on being with a strong alternative, rather than trying his luck on his own.

“Unless you are with a strong party, there is little hope of getting what you want. Khadse wants to be a minister and not just a legislator,” said a source.

However, it is learnt that neither Thackeray nor Pawar have offered Khadse any inducements to switch sides.

Khadse held the revenue portfolio under Devendra Fadnavis’ BJP-Shiv Sena government, but was forced to resign in 2016 after being accused of irregularities in a land deal. His anger with the BJP and Fadnavis grew after he was denied a ticket to contest the 2019 assembly polls. His daughter Rohini was fielded by the party, but lost. Khadse has privately held Fadnavis and former BJP minister Girish Mahajan responsible for his daughter’s defeat, sources said.

Others angry with Fadnavis too

There is widespread anger among the BJP legislators against Fadnavis, now the leader of the opposition in the assembly. Although only Khadse, Pankaja Munde and Prakash Mehta have been vocal about being relegated to the sidelines without any reasons attributed, there are at least 13 others who are also awaiting the opportunity to move out of the BJP, sources said.

On 12 December, when Munde held a rally in Parli, Beed district, Khadse was present on the stage and expressed his anger. Other OBC leaders within the BJP facing a similar predicament are looking to Khadse and Munde for leadership.

The anger against Fadnavis is increasing within the BJP, said party sources.

“He does not allow anybody else to speak in the assembly. He is caught in a war of words with the Shiv Sena and cannot come to terms that he is not the CM,” said a BJP legislator on the condition of anonymity.

Also read: Discovery fan with an elephant’s memory — 5 facts about Uddhav Thackeray you didn’t know


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