Maharashtra Assembly elections: Ignored by BJP, Eknath Khadse files nomination papers as independent

Mumbai: Miffed over his name not figuring in the first BJP list of candidates for the Maharashtra polls, senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse filed his nomination papers on Tuesday as an independent from Muktainagar in Jalgaon district.

Expressing his unhappiness over the treatment meted out to him, the former minister said if it was a crime to be loyal to the party, then he has committed that offence. Khadse, once seen as the No. 2 in the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet, but sidelined in the party for the last few years, claimed "several offers" were made to him, but he did not accept any of them.

The prominent OBC leader had resigned as revenue minister in June 2016 after facing allegations of misusing his power to purchase a piece of land in the Pune MIDC area. Khadses statement came in the backdrop of his name missing from the BJP's first list of 125 candidates for the October 21 Assembly polls. Hours later, Khadse (67) filed his nomination papers as an independent from the Muktainagar assembly segment.

Speaking to reporters later, he said, "I have been loyal to the BJP for the last 42 years. If it is a crime, then I have committed it. "I have completed all responsibilities given to me by my party. All I can say is that I bow before the changed times (kaalay tasmai namah), said a bitterly sounding Khadse, who once handled nearly a dozen portfolios. Khadse has been representing Muktainagar, his home turf in North Maharashtra, since 1991.

"I was waiting for the seat-sharing formula and to know whether my seat will to the Shiv Sena or not. Several offers were made to me, but I did not accept any of them, he said without elaborating. The BJP and the Shiv Sena are yet to announce their seat-sharing arrangement in the 288-member assembly. The last date of filing nomination papers as announced by the Election Commission (EC) is October 4, while the date for their scrutiny is October 5. Nominations can be withdrawn till October 7.

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