MUMBAI: In a big setback to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its senior leader in Maharashtra, Eknath Khadse, on Wednesday quit the saffron party which he served for nearly 35 years.
Khadse will be joining Nationalist Congress Party, according to an announcement by NCP leader and Maharashtra Minister Jayant Patil.
“Eknath Khadse promoted BJP in Maharashtra over years. I've been informed that BJP leader Eknath Khadse has resigned from his party. We've decided to give him an entry in NCP. He will be formally inducted into NCP at 2 pm on Friday,” Patil said, according to news agency ANI.
Eknath Khadse promoted BJP in Maharashtra over years. I've been informed that BJP Leader Eknath Khadse has resigned from his party. We've decided to give him an entry in NCP. He will be formally inducted into NCP at 2 pm on Friday: Jayant Patil, NCP Leader & Maharashtra Minister pic.twitter.com/3o1STFi7IH
— ANI (@ANI) October 21, 2020
"He has quit the BJP after serving the party for over 35 years... He will join the NCP on Friday afternoon," Patil told the media.
The NCP leader also hinted that other BJP leaders, including several activists at various levels, are likely to follow Khadse's suit. He further said elected legislators could also leave the BJP at a later stage.
There had been intense speculation about Khadse quitting the BJP for a while but former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had dismissed it on Tuesday, saying there are talks every day of such kind of "muhurat".
As per news agency PTI, Khadse was upset ever since he was made to resign as a minister in the then Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government in 2016 on corruption allegations.
Notably, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had on Monday said that Eknath Khadse, as the leader of the opposition earlier, played a significant role in building the BJP in Maharashtra. "He would criticise us and we would take note of it," Pawar had said.
"One is bound to feel disturbed if his contributions and hard work are not taken note of. He may think why shouldn't he shift to a party which appreciates his work," the NCP leader had added.
All this had triggered huge speculations about Khadse joining the NCP in Maharashtra.