Maha: Eknath Khadse joining will help BJP garner OBC votes

Mumbai, April 8 (IANS) BJP’s move to roll out a red carpet to former minister and NCP legislator Eknath Khadse ahead of Lok Sabha polling is a calculated move to play the OBC card and avoid backlash from the politically influential Maratha community especially against the backdrop of protests Manoj Jarange-Patil demanding reservation to the community.

The Central leadership’s green signal for Khadse’s “Ghar Wapsi” is aimed at giving Khadse, who is the mass leader in OBC, respect and thereby consolidate its position during Lok Sabha elections to achieve its Mission 45 plus and also in the state assembly for carrying out 200 plus target in Maharashtra.

Further, the Central leadership has given prominence and preference to the party’s victory instead of internal differences between Khadse and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the state minister Girish Mahajan.

Khadse after his entry is expected to be soon involved in the party’s campaigning across Maharashtra.

Khadse, who is one of the prominent OBC leaders, had slogged for over four decades for BJP’s rise in Maharashtra along with Gopinath Munde before he parted ways in 2020 to join NCP criticising the state leadership. The party insiders strongly believe that Khadse’s entry will help make up for the possible loss in Maratha votes.

It is not Khadse who will be brought into the fold so that he can regain his past glory but the party took a cautious decision to nominate Pankaja Munde another OBC leader from the Vanjani community from Beed and party ally Rashtriya Samaj Paksh founder Mahadev Jankar from Parbhani.

Incidentally, Jankar hails from the Dhangar community and he has been accommodated in MahaYuti’s seat-sharing arrangement from the Ajit Pawar-led NCP’s quota from the Parbhani seat.

A senior party functionary said: “With Khadse’s entry, the party believes that the loss of Maratha votes can be compensated in Maharashtra. Khadse’s presence in the party will help in improving the party’s prospects not just in North Maharashtra but in Marathwada and other parts too. Besides, Khadse will also play a key role in the assembly constituencies comprising Muktainagar, Bhusaval, Jalgaon and Raver.”

The timing of Khadse’s entry is crucial as he has already been granted bail in connection with a money laundering case related to a land deal in the Pune district involving his family members.

Khadse, who was the revenue minister in the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis-led cabinet, had to resign in 2016 following the corruption charges. He had openly staked claim over the CM’s post though the Central leadership chose Fadnavis.

Further, Khadse received another relief after the Maharashtra government last year issued a notice against him and his family members directing them to pay over Rs 137 crore as a fine for allegedly excavating minor minerals without permission.



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