Calls to oust Maharashtra's Revenue Minister has put the BJP in a mega quandary.

Who is in the dock - Eknath Khadse or the BJPPTI
Blog Saturday, June 04, 2016 - 14:16
Written by  Vinita Deshmukh

Update: Media pressure has finally compelled Khadse to resign. However, he still continues to be the `Big Man' as we have to watch and see if BJP will risk time bound investigations as it will be like rubbing of the salt in the wound of the OBC community, which continues to stand by him.

It is difficult to believe, but it is true.  Allegedly the `caste’ of a political leader in India can work as a powerful force to nullify unpardonable crimes. Like, making phone calls to `absconding’ underworld don, Dawood Ibrahim, who successive governments for over two decades want us to believe they are 'finding' him? 

That `caste’ has the power to blink at a land grabber who is positioned as a Revenue Minister, who instead of protecting public land, is brazenly robbing it? That `caste’ has the power to shut the leadership’s eyes to terrorize people in the constituency from where he is elected?

Sad but true, that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rhetoric of a corrupt-free and terrorism-free governance has paled for the sake of the vested interest of his party which is contesting 10 seats for the Legislative Council elections to be held on 10th June. Apparently, this is one of the reasons why Khadse’s `sacking’ is postponed.

Eknath Khadse, belongs to one of the OBC communities - he is the second most senior leader in Maharashtra, after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Remember, Gopinath Munde was a stalwart OBC leader who died in an accident a year ago.  Since then, although his daughter, Pankaja Munde, was being portrayed as his successor, she is embroiled in the `chikki’ controversy. 

As all this was going on, Khadse was surreptitiously positioning himself as the numero uno leader of the OBC community which is a strong vote bank in Maharashtra. In fact, he is a strong contender for the CM’s post sometime or the other.

Manish Bhangale, who hacked Dawood’s phone calls, established that Khadse was one of the regular callers and has mentioned in his High Court petition that, ``the global data of telephone numbers gathered by me (petitioner) from the telephone bills of Dawood Ibrahim has the potential of exposing his financial empire ranging from films to cricket betting.’’ The Mumbai Police, succumbing to alleged political pressure, quickly gave Khadse a clean chit.

When India Today’s and Anjali Damania’s exposes of Khadse’s land scams lashed the BJP government in Maharashtra and the Centre and the chorus for his resignation grew louder, one would have thought the BJP leadership would immediately sack him. But no, the `OBC’ factor has put them in a real quandary. 

Added to this is the fact that Fadnavis is a Brahmin and therefore in the `political minority.’ If it had been the other way round, then it would have been easier to sack Khadse. Now, if Fadnavis ousts Khadse, hell will break lose, with public protests and agitations.  So, Fadnavis quickly rushed to Delhi and passed the buck to two people – Modi, in his capacity as Prime Minister and Amit Shah, in his capacity as the Party President. And he quietly returned to Mumbai.

Now, Modi is out of the picture for a few days as he is travelling to five countries including the USA. The decision to out Khadse will not be a result of `na khaunga, na khane doonga.’ The buck has been passed on to Amit Shah which means the central Party leadership will take a call. 

Now, apparently Shah is `looking’ into the matter and Fadnavis is waiting for the decision. In short, all these three leaders are in a catch 22 crisis – either way, it is going to create a dent in the party’s unity and in the vote bank.

L'affaire Khadse this is a case study of what Indian politics has come to be. Whichever political party you may cast a vote for, it is the `caste’ that will determine action against corrupt Netas, most of who will be protected. Have you noticed that Strongman Sharad Pawar or for that matter any other eminent political leader of Maharashtra is on the silent mode on this issue? So, is there a nexus? Only, since the last two days, Shiv Sena has begun to speak up and too because the media is focussing on the issue. 

And now you know why, Eknath Khadse can thump his chest and arrogantly say, ``I don’t care; I am a Big Man.’’