Mumbai: Senior BJP leader and Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse was on Saturday at the centre of a fresh controversy with the Aam Aadmi Party alleging that calls were made from underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's mansion in Karachi to his mobile phone, a charge rubbished by him.
AAP also sought Khadse's removal from the cabinet led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Khadse, viewed as a detractor of Fadnavis, recently found himself in a spot after his 'personal assistant' was arrested for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 30 crore in a land settlement case.
Though Khadse has dismissed the allegations as "baseless" stating the particular telephone number was not in use for last one year, AAP spokesperson Preeti Sharma Menon claimed otherwise.
"Eknath Khadse lied about his phone being out of service. His number 9423073667 received several calls from Dawood Ibrahim's wife Mehjabeen Shaikh's number 021-35871639 between September 4, 2015 and April 5, 2016," Menon told reporters in Mumbai. The AAP leader claimed that CM has asked the Mumbai Police to investigate the matter.
She had on Friday met Fadnavis and raised the issue of call records of four landline numbers registered at the underworld don's mansion in Karachi and of Khadse's name allegedly figuring on the list.
Menon claimed on Saturday that the call details between September 5, 2015 and April 5, 2016 were procured with the help of an "ethical hacker".
The AAP spokesperson claimed that "Police Commissioner's office has contacted Bhangale who has assured all out support to police or any other central investigating agency".
"The call list of frequent internationally dialled numbers from Dawood Ibrahim's home phone also includes Eknath Khadse's number and it was a total lie that Khadse's number was not in service," she said.
Explaining how he got the call data records, Bhangale said he first went to Dubai and got Dawood's wife Mehjabeen's number, hacked it and placed call details request on her behalf to Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL).
He also claimed that "four out of 10 frequently dialled numbers belonged to Indian politicians who hold command (over) central politics".
However, Khadse said, "no international call was made from or received on this phone in last one year".
Suggesting that the number could have been cloned, he said, "I have asked the CM and Jalgaon SP to probe if any person is using this number. I have also asked the CM to initiate an in-depth inquiry into the Gajanan Patil (his 'PA') bribery issue".
The issue has taken a political turn with the BJP terming the charge as "ridiculous" and accused AAP of seeking "cheap publicity"....