Mumbai Local

Khadse camp flexes muscles; Damania threatens agitation

Trouble continued for State’s controversial Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, who is battling several corruption charges, with former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) activist Anjali Damania threatening an indefinite hunger strike from Wednesday, demanding a thorough probe into multiple allegations levelled against the senior Bharatiya Janata Party minister.

Ms Damania, who released a set of documents alleging Mr. Khadse’s role in the irrigation scam and inflating rates of land owned by his family, on Wednesday met anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare over the issue and shared the documents. Emerging from the meeting, she announced that she will go on an indefinite hunger strike outside Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ official residence, Varsha. However, denied permission by the Mumbai police to protest in the high-security area, she is yet to decide the venue for her protest.

“I can approach the courts as I have done in the past, but when there is a government which claims na khayenge, na khane denge , I would like the BJP government to thoroughly investigate all the charges against Mr. Khadse, and appoint a fast-track court to prosecute if the charges are found to be true. If my allegations are false, they can take action against me, but what is this dilly-dallying about?” Ms Damania told The Hindu over the phone. She demanded a probe into all allegations against Mr. Khadse including the MIDC land deal, and alleged phone calls from underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s number.

Meanwhile, a day after skipping the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Mr. Khadse camped in his hometown of Muktainagar in Jalgaon for a second day even as his supporters hit the streets and staged a show of strength to mount pressure on the BJP leadership to back him.

According to sources from the Khadse camp, around 15 corporators from Jalgaon are ready to tender resignations to the party leadership in support of Mr. Khadse. Several members of the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council, considered close to the minister, too are backing him and advocating against his resignation. A delegation also held a meeting with the party’s state leadership.

Mr. Khadse’s supporters also burned the effigy of Aam Aadmi Party leader Preeti Sharma-Menon at Pachora in Jalgaon district, while similar protests were carried out against Ms. Damania.

BJP’s state unit Chief Raosaheb Danve, while speaking to reporters, said the party stands firmly behind Mr. Khadse and all allegations levelled against him are baseless.

According to sources in the BJP, Mr. Khadse has strategically stationed himself in his den and is taking stock of the situation by silently uniting his supporters. “If he really has to resign from the post, he must get solid backing from his supporters. He has purposely chosen to remain in Jalgaon, which is also a signal to the party’s state leadership that he cannot be counted out,” said a BJP leader on condition of anonymity.

The State Congress also wrote to Maharashtra Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao demanding that the governor use his constitutional powers to dismiss Mr. Khadse as a cabinet minister for misusing his ministerial position for the benefit of his family.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 7:25:22 AM |

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