Lost 20-25 seats in Maha as seniors ignored: BJP leader
In a veiled attack on former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, senior state BJP leader Eknath Khadse on Wednesday claimed that the party could have won at least 25 more seats in the October 21 Assembly elections if seniors had not been sidelined.
Once the de facto No 2 in the state party and government before he was made to resign on alleged corruption charges, Khadse also targeted Fadnavis for joining hands with Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar to form the short-lived government last week.
Though he did not specifically take the name of Fadnavis, it was quite obvious who he was referring to in his media interaction.
Khadse pointed at Fadnavis' hobnobbing with Ajit Pawar, creating a big mess of the government formation and then giving the NCP leader a "clean chit" in the irrigation scam.
Dwelling upon how senior leaders like himself, Vinod Tawde, Prakash Mehta and Chandrashekar Bawankule were denied tickets in the Assembly polls, Khadse said: "You should have taken us along with you. That way, the BJP could have won around 20-25 seats more which it has lost."
Instead, his daughter, Rohini Khewalkar-Khadse was given the ticket from Muktainagar, but she lost to Independent candidate Chandrakant N. Patil, who was supported by the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance.
His daughter-in-law Raksha Khadse, however, is a BJP MP from Raver (Jalgaon).
Khadse, who has been a senior party leader since the era of the late Pramod Mahajan-Gopinath Munde, served as a minister in the erstwhile Shiv Sena-BJP government of 1995-1999, became a minister again in 2014, but was later forced to quit during the Fadnavis regime.
On the irrigation scam, Khadse said the party had given cartloads of evidence against Ajit Pawar, but "now all these documents have been disposed off in 'raddi' (rubbish mart), and probably fetched a good price".
While clarifying that the party is never wrong, he contended that it is when "some party leaders entrusted with decision-making powers tend to take wrong decisions, the party has to face the consequences".
Justifying his contentions, he said when in 2014 the BJP snapped alliance with the Shiv Sena, it was the party's decision and he was entrusted with the responsibility of announcing it.
"The two parties contested separately, but later came together and formed the government which functioned well for the last five years," he said.
However, in 2019, the two parties contested the elections as a formidable alliance and were returned in a majority.
"The people gave a majority - 161 seats - to the BJP-Sena combine, but it was only on the issue of the post of Chief Minister that the alliance broke and the two partners parted ways," Khadse said,
The 67-year-old outspoken leader rued that though seniors like him have worked hard and did penance for the party for the past 35-40 years, they were simply brushed aside and the party is now looking at the damage.IANS