Fadnavis start damage control exercise, meets Khadse

Fadnavis start damage control exercise, meets Khadse

Fadnavis, a two-time former Maharashtra Chief Minister, has been on the line of fire of Khadse and other senior BJP leaders including Pankaja Munde, for sidelining them.

In what appears to be a damage-control exercise, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis on Friday met senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse at the latter's hometown in Jalgaon.

Fadnavis, a two-time former Maharashtra Chief Minister, has been in the line of fire of Khadse and other senior BJP leaders, including Pankaja Munde, for sidelining them.

Khadse, however, said that the meeting was on the election of the president and vice-president of the local bodies. During the meeting, former water resources minister Girish Mahajan was also present. The three leaders had breakfast together.  

"The meeting was limited to local bodies....nothing else was discussed," Khadse said adding that the state BJP president Chandrakant Patil wanted the issue to be discussed.

Khadse was considered No 2 in the Fadnavis-led erstwhile BJP-Shiv Sena government. However, he had to resign in the wake of charges of corruption and reported links with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

In the 2019 Vidhan Sabha polls, Khadse, a veteran OBC leader and the seniormost BJP leader of the state, was denied ticket from the home seat of Muktainagar. However, when he filed his papers as an Independent, his daughter Rohini Khadse was given the ticket but she lost the polls to Independent candidate Chandrakant Patil, who was supported by Congress-NCP alliance.

The meeting comes just a day after a TV interview in which Khadse targeted the Fadnavis-Mahajan duo. "I am told by the BJP's state core committee members that Devendra Fadnavis and Girish Mahajan had opposed issuing a ticket to me from Muktainagar Assembly seat in Jalgaon district. They even opposed the BJP central committee's willingness to give a ticket to me. I was told about it by some core committee members on condition of anonymity," Khadse had said in the interview.

In fact, former Finance, Planning and Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar too had come out in support of Khadse saying that denial of ticket to Khadse was not proper.

Khadse and senior leaders and ministers Vinod Tawde, Prakash Mehta and Chandrashekar Banwankule were denied tickets which made these senior leaders unhappy.

On the other hand, former rural development minister Pankaja Munde, the daughter of late Gopinath Munde, claimed that she had been sidelined. Pankaja lost the polls from Parli. She was defeated by her cousin and archrival Dhananjay Munde of NCP.

After Fadnavis resigned and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray became the Chief Minister, Khadse said: "Its okay that Khadse, Tawde,  Mehta, and Bawankule were not given tickets....you should have taken us along, the BJP would have got around 20 to 25 more seats."

Pankaja and Khadse, who is popularly known as Nathabhau, were together at the 70th birth anniversary of Gopinath Munde at Parli in Beed on December 12, during which the duo had launched a scathing attack on Fadnavis - though without naming him. Pankaja also intends to undertake a state-wide tour from January 27.

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