Finally, former BJP leader Eknath Khadse, who had recently joined the NCP, broke his silence and disclosed that he has received summons from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to appear before it on December 30 in Mumbai. Khadse, who has been nominated by NCP to the legislative council from the Governor’s quota, said the ED summons is in connection with the purchase of a three-acre plot on his wife’s name in Bhosari near Pune. Khadse in June 2016 had resigned in the wake of charges of corruption and misuse of power.
A senior ED officer on Saturday confirmed to The Free Press Journal that Khadse has been asked to appear before them on December 30. He was considered as the No 2 in the Devendra Fadnavis Cabinet. The ED will be conducting an enquiry under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA) Act. The agency probe will revolve around the deal and if there are any proceeds of crime. The PMLA defines proceeds of crime as “any property derived or obtained, directly or indirectly, by any person as a result of criminal activity relating to a scheduled offence or the value of any such property”.
‘’ Earlier, the Anti-Corruption Bureau Pune and Nashik, the Income Tax Department and the Justice Dinkar Zoting Commission had conducted inquiries in this matter. I had submitted all papers and extended my cooperation during probes,’’ said Khadse. He further added that the land deal is worth Rs 5 crore as per the ready recknor rates.
“So far four inquiries into the Bhosari land deal, which is in my wife’s name, has been done. Now ED’s is the fifth such probe. Whenever ED will call me I will remain present as it has every power to conduct a probe. I will cooperate,” noted Khadse. He however, declined to comment whether it was the BJP’s handiwork or the political vendetta.
Khadse on the occasion of joining NCP on October 24 had said that he would not be cowed down by threats of investigative agencies like the ED. “If you have ED, I have the CD,” he added. However, he preferred not to make any comment in this regard.
The case was filed acting on the orders of the Bombay High Court. Justice Ranjit More and Revati Mohite Dere ordered ACB to investigate the case. In 2018, the ACB had given a clean chit to Khadse in the Bhosari land deal and observed that there was no evidence that the latter was aware that his wife, Mandakini, and son-in-law, Girish Choudhary, had purchased the plot.
Further, the Zoting Commission, appointed by the former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on June 23, 2016, had submitted its report to the state government. However, the Fadnavis government did not reveal its findings.
Meanwhile, the NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik slammed the BJP for allegedly targeting political opponents through central probe agencies. “In the past too, they had targeted our top leaders, including NCP President Sharad Pawar and others. Khadse is a seasoned leader and he will deal with any such situation appropriately,” he said.