Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde suffered a huge setback on Monday when his older brother, Panditrao, 70, announced his decision to quit the party and join the NCP.
“I have been treated badly in the BJP. For the past three years, I have been sidelined and have not been invited to party meetings. My supporters and I have decided to join the NCP,” Panditrao said.
He will join the NCP in a function at Munde’s hometown Parli, Beed district, on January 19. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar is expected to attend the event. For years, Panditrao and his son Dhananjay have been looking after Munde’s political interests in Parli. On Monday, Munde blamed Pawar for his brother’s decision. “Even Dhananjay may join the NCP,” he said.
Panditrao’s move comes at a bad time for Munde, who is embroiled in a power tussle with party president Nitin Gadkari to maintain his standing in the party.
The political ambitions of Dhananjay, and his own decision to make his daughter his political heir sowed the seeds of discord three years ago.