Six-time MLA, Maharashtra's tallest OBC leader, former Maharashtra Cabinet minister, northern Maharashtra strongman... there are many reasons why the departure of Eknath Khadse could have a bearing on BJP's fortunes in the state in the time to come.
Having joined Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party, Khadse is planning a fightback.
Asianet Newsable's Mohammed Yacoob spoke exclusively to Khadse moments after his induction into NCP where he speaks of the humiliation he suffered within the BJP. In many ways, Khadse says, he was pushed out of the BJP.
Muktainagar's undisputed leader accused former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of sabotaging his career out of fear.
Read the no-holds-barred interview:
Now that you have joined the NCP, how does it feel? Did the welcome happen as planned?
Eknath Khadse: Yes! It went on well. I have known leaders in the NCP for a long time. Some of them have been old friends. I don't feel I am new here
Your share a good relationship with Sharad Pawar. Was this why you joined the NCP?
Eknath Khadse: I can't tell you that. But I have had relations with Sharad Pawar from a very long time. I have worked under him when he was the chief minister. From then to now, I have met him several times.
There are reports that you could be accommodated in the (Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi) government. What do you have to say about that?
Eknath Khadse: No. There is nothing like that.
Will you join the state government or remain a worker?
Eknath Khadse: I have no desire (to join the government). For me, only development matters. Thousands of crores of development work are stuck. We have to help the government. I had sanctioned many of those (projects) during my tenure.
You were a big leader in the BJP. You were known to take the OBC and backward classes along. Your exit was a major blow for the BJP. Did you appraise the central leadership about the 'injustice' done to you? What was their response?
Eknath Khadse: I went to everyone for a year. I briefed the leadership about what was happening. They told me they will investigate. But nothing happened. Hence I thought that be Devendraji (former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis) may be having the support of the central leadership.
Your equation with Devendra Fadnavis was not on the right track and yet the central leadership ignored it...
Eknath Khadse: Devendra did a lot. I was a contender for chief minister. He was afraid that I would be made the chief minister. Hence, he foisted false cases upon me and tried to defame me. At last, he used a dirty trick. He used a lady to file an FIR against me, claiming that I outraged her modesty. But nothing like that happenned. Neither did I meet her nor did anything happen. The matter went to court and I was given a clean chit. He (Fadnavis) did a cheap act. Hence I decided that it was not right for me to stay on in the party.
Some BJP leaders are reportedly in touch with you and planning to exit the party and join NCP. Could you confirm this?
Eknath Khadse: Yes, many party workers have left the party and come. When my tour across Maharashtra will begin, many more will come. More have expressed their desire to come.
The BJP claims that Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government is not functioning properly. Even the central leadership has been saying so. What do you have to say about this?
Eknath Khadse: See whoever is in the opposition will never say that the government is good. Even I was an opposition leader for five years. The opposition's work is to point out mistakes, say that government will collapse or it is not strong to survive. This is what the opposition normally does.
What were your expectations when you met Sharad Pawar?
Eknath Khadse: He told me that a lot of development work is stuck. There are thousands of crores worth of projects pending. Some projects may get more funds. At present, I don't want to take up anything. I have been toiling away. I have been in politics since a lomg time. I was also a minister. I was MLA for six consecutive times. This time, I was denied a ticket.
In your constituency Muktainagar, it is said that people declare you winner even before you file your nomination...
Eknath Khadse: I was elected MLA six times continuously and with a comfortable margin. I would have been elected with a comfortable margin a seventh time too. But they (Fadnavis) intentionally cancelled the ticket, they did not want a competitor. I was humiliated again and again. That's why I joined the NCP. And I joined not because I will gain something, but because my own party troubled me. I was pushed out (of the BJP).
In the Maharashtra Vikas Agadi, how is your equation with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Congress leaders?
Eknath Khadse: See, I have 40 years of political experience. By working tirelessly in the state assembly, I have developed good relations with leaders from other parties. I was also in the government. Hence, the relationship became better.
Last Updated 24, Oct 2020, 10:36 AM