Pankaja Munde continues to give BJP the cold shoulder

She chalks out her own programme to corner State govt. on reservation, COVID-19

On his seventh death anniversary, former Union Minister late Gopinath Munde has become a rallying point for the BJP in Maharashtra to restrategise itself around the sensitive issues of Maratha reservation and political reservation for the OBCs in local civic bodies, which were scrapped by the Supreme Court in its verdicts in two different cases.

However, his daughter and former State Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde-Palve, in an address to her followers on Thursday in Beed district, chose to give the cold shoulder to the leadership by announcing her decision to reach out to every village to connect with people individually on the two issues and the State government’s mis-management in handling COVID issues.

She even appealed to people to send as many postal letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office as possible highlighting the reservation issues. “Send so many letters that Prime Minister would mention that in his next Mann ki Baat,” she said.

Postal envelope released

At the national level, the BJP held a special programme attended by party president J.P. Nadda where he launched a ₹5 postal envelope in the memory of one of the tallest OBC leaders in Maharashtra. Munde died in a car accident in Delhi, barely days after he became Union Minister in 2014.

“Gopinath Munde was a mass leader who was rooted to the ground. He was voice of the poor, dalits and backward classes at the national level. He was a farmer politician. He was a leader of the bahujan class in true sense,” said Mr. Nadda, recalling how he worked for them resulting in party’s growth in the State.

Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis raised the issue of the Supreme Court scrapping political reservation for the OBCs in local civic bodies saying had Munde been alive, he would not have let such injustice to the OBCs take place.

However, the shower of praises on Munde seems to have broken very little ice with Ms. Munde who has been maintaining distance from the State BJP leadership since her defeat in the 2019 Assembly polls at the hands of her estranged cousin and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Dhananjay Munde. Though she attacked the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government over its failures in handling the pandemic and delivering justice to the Maratha and the OBC communities, she remained conspicuously mute about the State BJP. On the contrary, she presented herself as the one who will be sharpening the Opposition attack.

“I am going to go out in every village in Maharashtra to meet people. Let’s fill the Shivaji Park [ground in central Mumbai], but not for political gains but to ensure justice to the community,” she said, reminding all about how her father who fought for the OBCs always sttod for reservation to Marathas.

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