Mumbai, Oct 23 : Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar on Friday formally inducted senior politician Eknath Khadse and many other leaders, who quit the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday, into the party fold.
Khadse, his daughter Rohini Khadse-Khevalkar and 72 other party workers at various levels from Jalgaon district were lustily cheered as they joined NCP, amid speculation that many others from the BJP may follow suit.
In his welcome speech, state NCP President and minister Jayant Patil said that it was “unfortunate” that such a senior leader was humiliated by the BJP on trumped up charges despite his contributions to building the party.
“Now, they will realise that ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ (Khadse) and ‘picture abhi baaki hai’. His entry will strengthen the NCP,” Patil said, in a loaded hint of more to come after Khadse.
Starting his political career in the 1970s, Khadse, 68, was elected the sarpanch of Kothali village in 1987. Later he was elected as a legislator for six times from 1989 till 2019 from his home town Muktainagar.
In the Shiv Sena-BJP government (1995-1999), he had served as a minister. Later he served as the Leader of Opposition before being bypassed for the post of Chief Minister when the BJP-Sena regime took office in 2014, shocking many in the political circles.
However, Khadse became the de facto No. 2 under the then CM Devendra Fadnavis.
Later, following certain allegations of corruption and other charges, he was forced to quit the cabinet in June 2016 and since then he was in political wilderness till he joined the NCP.