Veteran social activist Anna Hazare will try to create moral pressure on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party as its most senior minister, Eknath Khadse, is facing charges of corruption, an aide said. Social activist Anjali Damania, who met Hazare, said she will stage a sit-in outside the chief minister’s official residence ‘Varsha’ on the Malabar Hill in Mumbai to demand Khadse’s resignation from the state cabinet.
She said Hazare will shortly speak to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue, as part of his anti-corruption agenda.
Hazare conveyed his intention to Damania when she called on him at his Ralegan-Siddhi village in Ahmednagar.
Damania showed Hazare the documents purportedly linking Khadse to certain scams and said the 78-year-old well known social activist was “shocked”.
Meawhile, Mumbai police slapped Damania with a notice prohibiting her from agitating in the sensitive VVIP zone.
Some BJP activists and Khadse supporters too threatened to burn her effigy in Jalgaon, the northern Maharashtra district from where the minister hails.
Damania hit back at the BJP with a tweet: “Achche Din… Great, BJP! Instead of burning effigy of those indulging in corruption, you are targeting those fighting against graft.”
Both Hazare and Damania have in the past targeted ministers, bureaucrats and officials for various acts of alleged corruption spanning several key government departments.
The beleaguered Khadse — number two in the state cabinet and holding around 10 key portfolios, including revenue — has been accused of corruption by different opposition parties too, which have demanded his sacking or resignation.
Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam on Monday led a delegation to Maharashtra Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao to demand Khadse’s removal.
On Monday, Pune-based businessman-cum-activist Hemant L. Gawande accused Khadse, his wife and son-in-law of various irregularities in the purchase of a piece of land.
Gawande charged Khadse with misusing power and authority, subverting laws, bypassing norms, evading tax, pressurising officials and other wrongdoings in closing the land deal in April to benefit his family members.
The ruling BJP, however, dismissed as “baseless and mala fide” the allegations against Khadse.