Unhappy over the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) indifference, a disgruntled Gopinath Munde on Monday hinted that he could soon be joining the Congress.
Munde, who has been stationed in the Capital for the past few days, met senior Congress leaders, including Congress in-charge of Maharashtra, Mohan Prakash, and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel on Monday. Sources said he has agreed to join the party in exchange for a cabinet berth in the Union government and ministerial positions for his supporters in the state cabinet.
Munde met senior BJP leader LK Advani, party chief Nitin Gadkari, Maharashtra BJP in charge Venkaiah Naidu and Anant Kumar late on Sunday night.
The senior party leaders tried to pacify the leader, but rejected Munde’s two demands that he be allowed to go back to Maharashtra as the opposition leader in the Assembly and his supporter Yogesh Gogawale be appointed as the president of Pune BJP, instead of a Gadkari loyalist.
Congress leaders confirmed to HT that Munde was in touch with them, exploring all possibilities. “Munde met the Congress incharge of Maharashtra, Mohan Prakash at the two separate five star hotels in New Delhi. Later he also met the Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel,” a Congress Union minister told the HT requesting anonymity.
Munde and Prakash were unavailable for comment.
“Munde told Congress that three members of Parliament and 15 legislators, including his daughter and nephew, would also leave BJP and join Congress. He wants the Congress to make him a Union minister and accommodate two legislators in the state cabinet,” said the Congress minister.
State Congress president Manikrao Thakre is in touch with the BJP’s ‘would-be’ rebel.
Meanwhile, the party has convened a meeting of the legislators, MPs and officebearers in Mumbai on Tuesday.
It is expected that the two groups — Gadkari and Munde — will show their strength in the meeting which will be addressed by state BJP president Sudhir Munganttiwar and opposition leader in the state assembly Eknath Khadse.
“Legislators and parliamentarians call me to know about the matter. And they have the right to know about the current party affairs. We will update them tomorrow,” said Khadse.
A senior BJP leader told the HT from New Delhi that Gadkari and other seniors want to fathom the sentiments in the party. “We want to know how the elected representatives and office-bearers) would react to the party without Munde.”