Mumbai Senior Maharashtra leader Eknath Khadse, who quit the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday, made a grand entry by helicopter into Mumbai and as he prepares to join the ruling coalition partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), hinted at dropping a “political bomb” on his former party.
Accompanied by wife Manda and daughter Rohini Khadse-Khevalkar, he was lustily cheered and welcomed by a large group of his supporters, some even waving NCP flags, when he alighted from a private chopper this afternoon, flying in from Jalgaon and then heading for his Mumbai residence.
Earlier, interacting with media persons in his Muktainagar home, Khadse hinted at dropping political bombs on his former party claiming that “many BJP sitting legislators” were in contact with him, but could not come out in the open owing to the anti-defection laws.
Besides, he said another dozen-odd former BJP legislators, several district leaders, cooperative bank directors, party activists and supporters are likely to accompany him when he joins the NCP on Friday afternoon.
NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase that they have “organised a function on Friday afternoon where he will join the party in the presence of NCP President Sharad Pawar and other senior leaders, ministers, etc”.
However, it is not clear how many other people would switch loyalties to the NCP along with Khadse, although several BJP bigwigs including Leader of Opposition in the Council Pravin Darekar assured that “no legislators are with Khadse”.
On Wednesday, Khadse quit the BJP after nearly 40 years and held Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis responsible for his decision, while Maha Vikas Aghadi partners Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress welcomed his move.
He revealed that besides NCP, he was given offers by even Sena and Congress, and at least one party had even offered him a ticket in the 2019 Assembly elections, but he did not take up as he expected “justice” from the BJP leadership.
Referring to the former CM Fadnavis’ oft-repeated election war-cry, “Me Punha Yaeen” (I Will Return), Khadse took a swipe at him, by saying people did not like his “Me” attitude and he should have stuck to the collective “We”.
On his role and responsibilities in the NCP, Khadse kept his cards close to the chest by saying he had not been given any specific offer either in the government or the party by NCP.
“Neither do I have any expectations from (NCP), but I would strive to work for the development of my region through the MVA government,” he said.
However, well-placed MVA sources reveal that Khadse would be nominated to the Legislative Council and given a plum portfolio, possibly the Agriculture Ministry, in tune with his stature and experience.
This in turn would necessitate a cabinet reshuffle ahead of the first anniversary of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s government, which assumed office on November 28, 2019, said the sources.