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Eknath Khadse not keen to return to Maharashtra cabinet

Senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse, who resigned from the Maharashtra cabinet two years back following corruption allegations, has said that he is not too keen to be a part of the party-led government again.

The leader also said he has no plans to quit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the saffron outfit is his “family” and that it supported him in his difficult times.

Khadse, the MLA from Muktainagar seat in Jalgaon district of North Maharashtra, had resigned in June 2016 after he was accused of using his post as the revenue minister to facilitate a land deal in favour of his wife and son-in-law.

He has since then consistently denied any wrongdoing.

With the Maharashtra Assembly elections due just over a year from now, the 65-year-old veteran BJP leader doesn’t seem to be much interested in being part of the government.

“There is just over a year left for (state) elections now. Before that also there will be lots of local polls. The election code of conduct will barely allow the government to do much work now,” he said.

“Hence, I am not too interested in returning to the state cabinet for now,” Khadse, who was earlier considered No. 2 in the Devendra Fadnavis-led government in the state, told in an interview.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had earlier this month submitted its report to a Pune court in connection with the case of alleged irregularities in the purchase of the MIDC land near Pune, involving Khadse.

The leader had then expressed confidence that he would come out clean in the case.

In the backdrop of media reports that the court did not find anything concrete against him, Khadse, who recently underwent a knee replacement surgery and is now recuperating, said, “I am happy that the truth has prevailed.”

“There was an attempt to tarnish an impeccable image built over nearly four decades of political career,” alleged the leader, who had also held the agriculture portfolio.

He felt that in the two years, when he was in political oblivion, he could have done “a lot of good work” in the agriculture department.

“The loss of two years is not just personal but for the state as well. I could have done a lot of good work in these two years and contributed for the welfare of the state,” he said.

Asked about his future political plans, Khadse, who enjoys a good rapport with leaders across the political spectrum, said he had no plans to part ways with the BJP.

“I have grown up in the BJP and it is my family. The party supported me in my difficult times. There is no question about leaving it,” he asserted.

The Fadnavis-led BJP government, in which the Shiv Sena is an ally, was voted to power after 15 years of “misrule” of the Congress-NCP regime, he said.

“Good work is surely being done. However, we could have fared better,” the leader said.

On the recent induction of former Congress leader Rajendra Gavit in the BJP ahead of the Palghar Lok Sabha byelection and then being nominated for it, Khadse said such instances lower the morale of the party workers.

“It was wrong on part of the Shiv Sena to induct Shrinivas Wanga (son of late BJP MP Chintaman Wanga). Since they did, we (BJP) had to field Gavit, despite the fact that such (last minute) inductions lower the morale of the party,” he said.

The Palghar Lok Sabha seat bypoll, necessitated due to the demise of Chintaman Wanga (67) on January 30 earlier this year, will be held on May 28.

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