The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has stepped up efforts to lure the sulking senior Bharitya Janata Party (BJP) leader Eknath Khadse. Party leaders from Jalgaon, which is Khadse’s home district, have held initial talks with the former minister and strongly conveyed to the leadership that the latter's entry into the NCP fold will help the party organisation to regain its glory in the district and also in North Maharashtra.
NCP leaders from Jalgaon have also argued that Khadse’s entry will help the party to get the support of the politically influential Leva Patil, which is dominant among the OBC. Incidentally, Khadse, who is a veteran Leva Patil, has a following in North Maharashtra.
Khadse recently fired fresh salvo against former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, terming him a ‘dry cleaner’, who gave clean chit to all party ministers facing corruption charges, except him. Khadse claimed Fadnavis ruined his political prospects and not the party.
Interestingly, both NCP state chief Jayant Patil and Khadse have downplayed media reports with regards to the latter joining the NCP. However, NCP insiders confirm that discussions were in progress and party chief Sharad Pawar will take a final decision.
Patil, who met Pawar today, said their meeting was pertaining to the irrigation projects in Jalgaon and not with regards to getting Khadse into the party fold.
On his part, Khadse said he was not aware of any efforts from his side to join NCP.
However, state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said Khadse will not leave the party. Former finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said, “Khadse is our senior leader and will not leave the party.”