Factionalism within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has once again shown its head, with senior party leader Gopinath Munde skipping the much-publicised public meeting of the Shiv Sena, the BJP and the Republican Party of India (RPI) on Saturday.
BJP state unit chief Sudhir Mungattiwar on Friday had elected Vikas Mathkari, a close associate of party president Nitin Gadkari, as the Pune city president over Munde loyalist Yogesh Gogawale.
As his followers were upset, Munde chose to leave for Mumbai from Pune although he was scheduled to attend the meeting.
Disappointed over the selection of Mathkari, many of Munde’s followers also stayed away from the meet.
In an attempt to save the face of the party, BJP leader Vinod Tawade, who was at the meeting, tried to explain Munde’s absence saying, “Gopinathji had to leave for Mumbai for some urgent work.”
While from the BJP, only Tawade attended the meeting, Subhash Desai and Neelam Gorhe were present from the Sena’s side and RPI’s Ramdas Athavale attended the meet, which was an attempt to galvanise the cadre of parties ahead of a protest march in Mumbai on June 9.
When pressed further over Munde’s absence, Tawade said, “I don’t think Munde will express his disappointment by skipping such an event.”
The BJP Pune unit has long been affected by factionalism, with one group led by Munde and another by Gadkari. For the same reason, it took a year and a half for party leaders from Mumbai to take a final call on who will head the party unit in Pune city.
Gogawale demanded that senior party leader Venkaiah Naidu make public the report in which he had documented wishes of other party leaders from Pune, ahead of the selection process.
Stating that seven of the party office bearers from Pune were not asked their opinion during the selection, Gogawale said, “There was lack of full transparency in the selection process.”
As indications of schism in the party’s local unit became palpable, Tawade said, “If anyone is disappointed, he or she should put their views forward in party forum.”