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Former Maharashtra BJP leader Eknath Khadse joins NCP

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Mumbai, Oct 23: Former Maharashtra BJP leader Eknath Khadse on Friday joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in the presence of the party''s chief Sharad Pawar.

Sulking since his unceremonious exit from the Devendra Fadnavis-led ministry in 2016 over land grab allegations, Khadse (68) on Wednesday quit the BJP. The same day, state NCP chief Jayant Patil announced he would be joining the Pawar-led party.

Eknath Khadse

NCP is part of the ruling alliance in the state along with Shiv Sena and Congress, whose Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government assumed office 11 months ago.

Khadse, former Maharashtra Revenue Minister and also an ex-Leader of Opposition in state Assembly, was inducted into the NCP at the partys head office here.

The leader, who flew in here on Thursday from his native Jalgaon district in north Maharashtra, was in political wilderness during the last four years, though he quit the BJP only two days ago.

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Khadse''s formal entry into NCP, scheduled at 2 pm, was delayed by over an hour as Pawar was in a meeting with party minister Jitendra Awhad.

Jayant Patil welcomed Khadse in the party, by offering him a scarf.

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    Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Khadse had blamed Fadnavis for "trying to destroy his life" and political career, over three decades of it spent in strengthening the BJP in Maharashtra.

    Responding to the charges levelled by Khadse against him, Fadnavis (50) had said his former BJP colleague was speaking "half truth", adding Khadse had painted him a villain while making the allegations against him.

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