MUMBAI: Former Maharashtra revenue minister Eknath Khadse, who had to resign after his name was embroiled in a land scam, is likely to be reinstated in the state cabinet, party sources said.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) insiders said that he might be given the portfolio of Public Works Department (PWD). However, Khadse said that he was waiting for a decision from the party leaders. The report is expected to be tabled before both Assembly and Council House in monsoon session scheduled from July 24.
“The report appears to have vindicated my stand,” Khadse said. “I am now waiting for the party’s decision,” he said, and added that he was a loyal soldier of the party. Though party insiders said that the chances of re-induction of Khadse into the state cabinet were very strong, a few others said that a few more legal hurdles would have to be cleared if that was to happen.
Khadse is currently the senior most leader of the state BJP with vast experience in administration. He was a minister in the Shiv Sena-BJP government during 1995-98 and also handled several portfolios. He was also the leader of Opposition in the state assembly for most of the time between 1999 and 2014. The power struggle within the BJP too was behind his ouster from the cabinet, party insiders said.
A committee under retired judge Dinkar Zoting had been appointed to enquire into charges of corruption against Khadse. The committee had recently submitted its report to the state government. A senior official from law and judiciary department said that the committee had not held Khadse responsible for any corruption in the land purchase case at Bhosri near Pune.
“The report has stated that Khadse had paid the whole amount of stamp duty of the said plot. It means he did had no intention to evade the tax while taking undue advantage of his post and power in the government,” the official said while adding that the state government was likely to present the report before the state legislature if it deems correct to do so.
The report observed that Khadse did not hide information about the purchase of land in the name of Mandakini - his wife - from the enquiry officers, the official added. “The committee stated that there was no violation of rules or misuse of quasi-judicial power, but technically and morally, Khadse’s action (of purchase of land) was not good,” the official claimed.