Bharatiya Janata Party leader Eknath Khadse on Wednesday quit the saffron party, resigning from all its posts, The Hindu reported. He will join the Nationalist Congress Party on Friday.
NCP Maharashtra President and Irrigation Minister Jayant Patil on Wednesday confirmed that Khadse has quit the BJP and will join his party on Friday.
Khadse, one of the senior-most leaders in the state BJP unit with a constituency in North Maharashtra, had been unhappy with the party for two years now, according to The Hindu. He was asked to resign from the ministerial post in the previous BJP-led state government over corruption allegations. Despite an investigation, none of the allegations against him have yet been proved. Last year, he demanded that the report of the committee that inquired into graft allegations against him be made public, a request that former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis refused.
Khadse’s daughter-in-law Raksha Khadse is a BJP MP from North Maharashtra. Eknath Khadse had indicated in the past that he had received offers to join the NCP, Congress and the Shiv Sena, according to The Indian Express.
Last week, Khadse skipped a function in Jalgaon where Fadnavis was present. Instead, he met Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. Khadse has accused Fadnavis of ruining his political career, as he was a strong contender to be the “first Other Backward Classes” chief minister from the BJP.
In November last year, after the Shiv Sena had formed a government with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, Khadse had said he was thinking about quitting the BJP after watching it make “political blunders” in the state. Khadse claimed that the BJP would have won 20-25 additional seats in the Assembly elections held in 2019, if he and some other party leaders had actively campaigned. Khadse did not any name any leader at the state-level or the Centre, but said that the party’s functioning had resulted in a lot of “anguish and embarrassment”.
Earlier this week, Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil had expressed confidence that Khadse would not quit the party. “I am confident that Eknath Khadse, who is our senior leader will remain with the BJP,” he said. “Anyone resigning from the party sends his resignation to me as I am the president of the party in the state. I have not received the resignation of anyone senior or junior leader from the party.”
On October 19, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that it is natural for somebody who has worked hard for the party to feel disgruntled if his contributions are not acknowledged. He said Khadse had played a huge role in building the BJP in Maharashtra. “He may think why shouldn’t he shift to a party which appreciates his work,” Pawar had said.