MUMBAI: Nearly a month since he was compelled to quit after facing a string of allegations, former Maharashtra minister and BJP veteran Eknath Khadse has stirred a row, saying the whole country would “shake” if he opened his mouth.
Mr Khadse, while addressing a group of supporters in his home constituency in Jalgaon on Thursday evening, said, “Though I have resigned in the wake of allegations against me, if I opened my mouth, the entire country will shake.”
The former minister also took pot shots at Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, saying he (Eknath Khadse) was responsible for the BJP heading the alliance in the state now by taking the “bold step” of snapping ties with the Shiv Sena before the last Assembly election.
“If the alliance between the BJP and Sena would not have broken before the assembly polls, Maharashtra would have had a chief minister of the Sena. I had taken the lead in getting the alliance broken due to which the CM today is of the BJP,” he said.
Mr Khadse, who was holding several key portfolios, including Revenue, in the state cabinet, had resigned earlier this month over a series of allegations including irregularities in a land deal and allegedly receiving calls on his mobile from a landline number of fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in Pakistan.
The Devendra Fadnavis government had ordered a judicial probe into the allegations, which Mr Khadse had stoutly refuted as baseless.
Assertions of Mr Khadse, considered the backward class face of the BJP in the state, evoked sharp response from the opposition Congress and the NCP.
“There have long been allegations against Eknath Khadse that he has links with Dawood Ibrahim. He has himself now said he has information that can ‘shake’ the country. In all probability he has got crucial information from either Dawood or through some other terror outfit which he is in touch with, and the ATS should immediately take him into custody and get the information,” Congress spokesperson Al-Nasser Zakaria said.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “Eknath Khadse has always been saying he does not speak without valid proof. Today when he says he has information, we have no reason to disbelieve that he is talking of something very serious that he has got his hands on, either through his conversations with Dawood or somebody else,” he said.