The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have found a new ally in the Republican Party of India (RPI), however there is uneasiness in the party with regards to the antagonism of party stalwart Gopinath Munde who finds himself sidelined in the affairs of the party.
Munde has been staying away from most of the party functions held in the state.
On June 9, as the Shiv Sena-BJP-RPI organised a rally against the government, Munde chose not to attend it. To make matters more complicated, his aides told the media about his meeting with Congress leader and long-time friend Vilasrao Deshmukh.
It also led to speculation within the BJP circles on whether Munde was contemplating joining the Congress.
However, on Saturday, Munde’s aides insisted that he was not planning to quit the party. Munde, who was in Pune, chose not to comment. “I do not want to say anything,” he said.
Munde, who had absolute control over the functioning of the Maharashtra BJP, saw his position being eroded after the death of his brother-in-law Pramod Mahajan. The elevation of Nitin Gadkari to the party president post has also severely hurt Munde who was involved in a power struggle with Gadkari in the state.
There are reports that Munde is not very happy playing second fiddle to Gadkari.
He was unhappy over Gadkari’s camps bid to prevent his loyalists from occupying key posts. Gadkari loyalist Nitin Mathkari was made Pune BJP president. On the other hand, there are efforts from within the party to remove Munde’s man Raj Purohit.