Former Bharatiya Janata Party leader Eknath Khadse on Friday joined the Nationalist Congress Party in the presence of party chief Sharad Pawar, the Hindustan Times reported.
“I have struggled for my entire life,” Khadse, who quit the BJP on Wednesday, said. “I have sacrificed my life for the BJP, but now I will work for NCP with full strength.” The former minister in the Devendra Fadnavis-led government said his followers and even senior BJP leaders had advised him to join the NCP.
Khadse, who was 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. “Fake cases were lodged against me that includes a molestation case and two cases by ACB [Anti-Corruption Bureau],” he said. “Now, I will reveal who has taken how many plots. I have never used a woman for politics. It is not in my nature.”
The newly-inducted NCP leader also took a dig at former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis taking oath at 5 am amid the Shiv Sena and the BJP’s tussle over forming a government in 2019. “Some are raising the issue of morality in my case,” Khadse said. “Where was this morality when the oath was taken at 5 in the morning to form the government?”
On Thursday, Khadse flew in from his native Jalgaon district to Mumbai, according to PTI. His induction ceremony, scheduled for 2 pm, at the NCP’s headquarters was delayed by an hour as Pawar was stuck in a meeting with state minister Jitendra Awhad.
After his resignation on Wednesday, Khadse had accused Fadnavis of “trying to destroy his life and political career”. 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 had demanded that the report of the committee that inquired into graft allegations against him be made public, a request that Fadnavis – who was at the helm of the state government – refused.
Khadse had indicated in the past that he had received offers to join the NCP, Congress and the Shiv Sena. On October 19, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that it was 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.