In a major development, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Eknath Khadse has decided to leave the party. He will be joining Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Friday. State NCP chief Jayant Patil made the announcement Wednesday.
Patil said that Khadse had informed him “sometime back” that he had decided to leave the BJP. “Senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse, who has played a significant role in the growth of the BJP in Maharashtra, has decided to leave his party. He has informed me about his decision sometime back. This has paved the way for his induction in the NCP. Khadse will formally join the party on Friday afternoon,” Patil said.
He said that several other BJP MLAs and leaders, who are Khadse’s supporters, wanted to join the NCP. However, a decision on their induction is yet to be taken. “We don’t want elections during the coronavirus pandemic and thus decisions about other leaders will be taken at appropriate time,” the state NCP chief said.
Seeking political rehabilitation, Khadse has been in talks with senior NCP leaders. According to his close aides, he is expected to get an MLC seat via the governor’s quota. The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, led by Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, is yet to take a decision on recommending names to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari for the appointment of 12 members of the legislative council (MLCs).
The former revenue minister was sidelined by the BJP after he was made to resign from the post following allegations of graft and conflict of interest in a land deal near Pune in 2016. He has been upset with the party since then.
The state BJP unit has confirmed the development. Party spokesperson Keshav Upadhye said that the state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil has received his resignation. “We tried to sort out the problems through a dialogue with him. It didn’t work out. We wish him luck. Even a small party worker leaving BJP is a loss for the party,” Upadhye said.