The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided that it will not woo its disgruntled leader Gopinath Munde, who is contemplating leaving the party, following differences with BJP president Nitin Gadkari.
The senior leadership, including Gadkari, has decided to follow instructions from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to ignore Munde.
Gadkari was in Mumbai on Monday to assess the situation after Munde threatened to quit. Munde supporters said he has discussed his options with senior Congress leaders and union minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vilasrao Deshmukh, his long-time friend. Deshmukh confirmed that Munde was unhappy in the BJP and contemplating joining the Congress.
Over the last four days, Munde has met the Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal. Munde also met his supporters on Tuesday at his residence.
A deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Munde had been associated with BJP since its Jan Sangh days and became its prominent non-Maratha, non-Brahmin face in 1995, when the BJP formed the government with the Shiv Sena. With the backing of the late Pramod Mahajan, the other backward class (OBC) leader managed to exercise his will in the party. He was deputy chief minister in the Sena-BJP government.
A close associate of Gadkari told the Hindustan Times, requesting anonymity, that the BJP was unhappy with Munde’s pressure tactics. “He has had so much in the party. We have decided not to buckle under pressure any more.”
He added that the party was assessing the damage that Munde could do to the BJP after defection. “We have concluded that Munde will struggle to retain the Beed Lok Sabha constituency on a Congress ticket, because the NCP dominates the district. It will be interesting to watch if the NCP boss Sharad Pawar, whom Munde has targeted all through his political career, would support Munde’s candidature.”
Munde also does not approve Gadkari’s leadership. The two have been at loggerheads on several issues in recent times.
When asked on Tuesday whether Munde spoke with him recently, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan joked that perhaps he was the only one that the BJP leader hadn’t met of late. He refused to comment on Munde’s political future.