Speculations are rife about BJP's deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Gopinath Munde, joining the Congress party soon, though Munde himself has dismissed any move in this direction.
"I am still talking to BJP leadership. No one from the Congress has approached me," Gopinath Munde said.
Munde arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday night, ostensibly to meet BJP leaders LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj. However, there are reports that he may meet the Congress president during his visit.
Seeing that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was in no mood to meet senior leader Gopinath Munde's demands, the Congress has swung into action to strike a deal with Munde.
The Congress high command summoned Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre to New Delhi to discuss the matter of Munde’s inclusion in the party, sources said.
Munde has been in talks with senior Congress leaders for almost a week. During his talks with Mohan Prakash, the Congress leader in-charge of Maharashtra, and Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel on Sunday and Monday, Munde is reported to have said that he was willing to join the Congress if he was given a Union Cabinet berth and at least two of his supporters were included in the Maharashtra Cabinet.
The Congress does not have a strong OBC leader in Maharashtra, so getting Munde would help strengthen its position on the ground. It could also deal a major blow to the BJP which has been speaking aggressively against the UPA regime at the Centre in the wake of various scams.
Munde's departure would also mean a setback for BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, who could invite criticism for his failure to prevent a split in the party in his home state. The anti-Gadkari factions within the BJP could also get aggressive against him.