MUMBAI: Former Maharashtra revenue minister and senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse, who had two years back resigned from the cabinet after a series of allegations were levelled against him, was given a clean chit in an alleged land scam by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Tuesday.
While reacting to the development, Khadse said that being proved innocent he would now like the truth behind the allegations needs to come out. On the other hand activist Anjali Damania dubbed the clean chit as the BJP’s style to save their ministers.
The ACB in its final report filed before a court in Mumbai said that the allegations of “misuse of power and position as Minister” in the Bhosari MIDC land deal and that the state suffered a huge revenue loss in the case were both unfounded.
The case referred to three acres of land in Bhosri industrial area of the Maharashtra Industries Development Corporation (MIDC) in Pune.
The land was purchased by Khadse’s wife and son-in-law for Rs 3.75 crore from one Abbas Ukkani. Stamp duty of Rs 1.37 crore too was paid at the registrar office in Pune.
However, it was alleged that the land belongs to the industrial development corporation of the state.
Khadse had said that vide a government resolution in mid 90’s any land acquired by the government automatically goes back to the original owner if not processed by the government agency in the stipulated time period and hence the disputed land in Bhosri MIDC belonged to the Ukkanis and not the MIDC.
He had also contended that there was no misuse of office in the deal, which was reiterated by the ACB before the court today.
Khadse, who was most experienced minister in the state cabinet and was officially number two, was handling at least half a dozen important ministries along with agriculture, state excise, minorities development and Wakf portfolios.
Two years back he faced several allegations like his alleged conversation with fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s wife, cars possessed by his son-in-law, his alleged ill-gotten wealth, involvement of his personal staff in corruption cases etc. He had then resigned from the cabinet demanding an inquiry.
An inquiry committee of retired justice was appointed. The committee that was expected to submit its report within three months delayed it and finally submitted it last year. Though the state government didn’t make public the findings of the committee, it is believed to have given a clean chit to Khadse. However, his re-entry in the state cabinet was postponed due to an FIR registered against him by the ACB.
“Though the ACB is said to have given a clean chit, the case is still not over. I’m waiting for the court verdict,” Khadse told the New Indian Express after ACB submitted its report to the court.
When asked whether he would like to return to the state cabinet, Khadse termed himself as the disciplined soldier of the party and said that he would work in whatever position that the party wants him to do.
“After a spotless career in politics of over 40 years when such allegations are made it pains you. I fought just to do away with the blot,” Khadse said.
“Allegations against me were motivated,” Khadse said while referring to activist Anjali Damania and added that he would soon be filing a couple of criminal defamation cases against her apart from several more filed by his supporters.
“If she has any proofs against me by the virtue of the defamation cases I’m giving her a forum to make those public,” he added.
Damania, however, expressed dismay over the clean chit given by the ACB.
“Eknath Khadse Bhosari land matter: This is how BJP saves their Corrupt Ministers. I had given all proofs in Bhosari land to ACB in Aug 17. If the ACB has given a CLEAN CHIT to Shri Khadse, I will challenge it in High Court immediately,” she said in her tweet.