Munde cousins polls apart: Council win helps Pankaja score over Dhananjay

While Dhananjay said that he took “full responsibility of the results”, Jagdale alleged the Congress had betrayed him

mumbai Updated: Jun 13, 2018 00:14 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times
Pankaja Munde,Dhananjay Munde,Munde cousins
Pankaja Munde(HT Photo)

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and rural development minister Pankaja Munde managed to win the Marathwada legislative council seat for her party on Tuesday, scoring a win over her cousin and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Dhananjay Munde.

The Osmanabad-Beed-Latur self-government constituency poll, just like other local polls in the region, had turned into a battle of prestige between Pankaja and Dhananjay. BJP candidate Suresh Dhas got 76 votes more than the NCP-Congress-backed independent candidate, Ashok Jagdale.

A former NCP minister and protégé of Pankaja’s father and Union minister the late Gopinath Munde, Dhas came back to the BJP in 2017. He was Pankaja’s pick for the council seat.

Of the 1,006 local representatives in the three districts, Congress and NCP together had 527 votes, the BJP and Sena together had 385 votes, while 94 votes were of independents. Dhas’ victory comes despite the saffron coalition having nearly 100 votes less than the Congress-NCP, pointing to cross-voting by the Opposition.

The NCP had given a seat to Ramesh Karad, a former BJP worker considered to be close to the late Munde, who joined the party ahead of the polls. However, Karad withdrew his nomination on the last day, leaving the party with no choice, but to support independent candidate Jagdale. Karad’s withdrawal was seen as part of Pankaja’s strategy to weaken the NCP’s bid.

The win for Pankaja on her home turf comes after successive defeats in local polls, especially the zilla parishad polls. After Munde’s sudden demise in 2014, Pankaja inherited her father’s political legacy as well as his large base of OBC followers. Her battle with Dhananjay is over this legacy and following.

“BJP leaders in Marathwada worked together for the polls, whereas the Opposition could not even ensure their candidate stayed with them. We reached out to every single voter in this election and that’s how we instilled confidence in them,” said Pankaja. “More than being happy about a win over Dhananjay, I am happy about contributing to my party’s win and fulfilling my responsibility.”

She refuted the allegations that the BJP used money and government clout to swing the election in its favour.

While Dhananjay said that he took “full responsibility of the results”, Jagdale alleged the Congress had betrayed him.

First Published: Jun 13, 2018 00:13 IST