Khadse goes

A day after BJP president Amit Shah's order to Eknath Khadse to quit or face dismissal for his involvement in the MIDC land scam, an aide's Rs.30-crore bribe demand and alleged links with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, the controversial state revenue and agriculture minister submitted his resignation to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis at the latter's official residence, Varsha, on Saturday morning.
The CM sent the resignation letter to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, who accepted it.Fadnavis tweeted that as Khadse had demanded a probe into allegations against him, a retired high court judge would be appointed to conduct the inquiry .
It had been reported that Khadse was on his way out as the BJP leadership felt corruption charges may affect the image of the party and the Modi government. After Fadnavis on Wednesday submitted a status report on the charges against Khadse to Shah and briefed Modi on the matter, the party leadership decided Khadse should be asked to resign and if he does not, he should be sacked from the cabinet and the decision communicated to the governor. It was accordingly communicated to Khadse on Friday that he should hand over his resignation to Fadnavis in the night itself or latest by Saturday morning, failing which the CM would have no option but to dismiss him from the state cabinet.
When Khadse received the message from the BJP leadership, he was reportedly in a state of shock as he had never believed he would be sacked. All along, he had expected he would be let off with a warning and be divested of most of his key portfolios.
In a press conference held at BJP's Nariman Point office just before submitting his resignation, where he was flanked by state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve and senior ministers Chandrakant Patil, Sudhir Mungantiwar, Vinod Tawde and Prakash Mehta, Khadse refuted all allegations and said he was resigning on moral grounds. “I will not take charge of office till I am cleared of all charges,“ he said. Khadse also blamed the media, saying, “I have never experienced this type of `media trial' in 40 years of my political career.“
Sounding low yet defiant, he said nobody had produced proof of any wrongdoing on his part. “Since Day One, I have asked the opposition and those who made allegations against me for concrete proof, but till date not a single piece of evidence they could give. I told Congress leaders that if they proved wrongdoing in the land issue, I would quit politics. I have told [activist Anjali] Damania that the land deal documents have been attached in my affidavit submitted to the election office, but she has no documents beyond that,“ Khadse said.
“I have seen many ups and downs in politics and in the party ,“ he said, adding, “Whenever allegations were made against Nitin Gadkari, Lal Krishna Advani or any other leader, they preferred to quit till the allegations were proved to be baseless. So I have asked the chief minister that though the allegations are baseless, he should conduct a thorough inquiry .“
He also claimed that all the allegations had been made against him for “cheap publicity and to malign the BJP's and the government's image“.
If a senior cabinet member is to be believed, Fadnavis submitted an adverse report on the Khadse matter to the party leadership, saying it was wrong on the part of the minister to purchase MIDC land in the name of his wife for a nominal price. It was found that while the market cost of the land was Rs.31 crore, Khadse's family members had purchased it for Rs.3.75 crore.
Surprisingly , stamp duty for the transaction was paid on the ready reckoner cost of land (Rs.31 crore). Fadnavis's contention was that it was unethical to purchase land and the whole matter was one of conflict of interest.
On May 27, at a media briefing in New Delhi on the occasion of completion of two years of the Modi-led NDA government, Amit Shah had told scribes that the charges of corruption and of links with Dawood were serious and that the BJP leadership had taken note of the matter. Shah had then.
Subsequently , when former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut demanded Khadse's resignation and blamed the chief minister for protecting him, Shah summoned Fadnavis and asked him to submit a comprehensive note on all the allegations against the revenue minister.
On June 2, Fadnavis made a brief presentation before Shah on the MIDC land scam, the Rs.30 crore bribe demand and the alleged calls from Dawood Ibrahim.
Khadse had all along taken the stand that there was nothing illegal in the land deal and had said that the land had still not been transferred in the name of MIDC, as was claimed by industries minister and Sena leader Subhash Desai. Further, Khadse had said that all allegations against him were part of a larger conspiracy by his own partymen.

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