Angered by the BJP not considering him for the May 21 Maharashtra legislative council polls, senior leader Eknath Khadse on Tuesday dubbed the development a "conspiracy" by certain leaders and launched a frontal attack on state unit chief Chandrakant Patil.
The BJP has been keeping Khadse at the arm's length since 2016 when he was made to resign as a minister in the then BJP government headed by Devendra Fadnavis over allegations of corruption.
He was denied a ticket in the October 2019 Assembly polls from his home turf Muktainagar in Jalgaon district. Though the BJP fielded his daughter, she lost to a Shiv Sena rebel.
Struggling to keep himself politically relevant, Khadse had hoped that he would be nominated on one of the four seats from the BJP's quota for the May 21 polls for total nine seats.
However, the party denied nominations not only to Khadse, but also to seniors like Pankaja Munde, Vinod Tawde and Chandrashekhar Bawankule. Most of them are believed to be detractors of former chief minister Fadnavis.
"This is a conspiracy against people like me who had served the party for 40 years and others by some 4-5 state leaders who are misleading Central leadership," Khadse said.
He accused state BJP president Patil of reneging on his promise of fielding then Kothrud MLA Medha Kulkarni in the MLC polls. Kulkarni was denied ticket in the assembly polls to make way for Patil to contest from her constituency in Pune.
"Had her name appeared in the list of BJP nominees, I would have felt nice. This simply means that Patil did not keep his words. However, after nominating NCP's ex-Rajya Sabha MP Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil, the same Chandrakant Patil says that he had kept his words," Khadse said.
The former minister said he was trying to contact Fadnavis, the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, and Patil to find out why he and others were ignored. Fadnavis and Khadse don't enjoy a good political rapport.
Khadse said that he knew, by virtue of being a member of the state BJP parliamentary committee, that he would be nominated for MLC polls.
"However, going by the dates of the documents filed by four candidates of the party, it is clear that they knew about their nomination to the Legislative Council in advance," he said.
Khadse also claimed that most of the BJP nominees had written to local authorities seeking no-dues certificates in March itself. "Against this background, there was no need for our party colleagues to lie to us that I and other leaders would be recommended to the Central committee as prospective nominees," he said.
The elections to nine seats are set to be unopposed with only as many candidates filing their nominations.