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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Pankaja Munde backtracks after saying she won’t go to Mantralaya till Dhangars get quota

From “I won’t enter Mantralya till Dhangars get reservation”, to “I was referring to the next term”, senior BJP leader and state’s rural development minister Pankaja Munde found herself in a tight spot on Tuesday after a colleague reminded her of her promise two days earlier

mumbai Updated: Jan 09, 2019 08:21 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Pankaja Munde
Pankaja Munde
         

From “I won’t enter Mantralya till Dhangars get reservation”, to “I was referring to the next term”, senior BJP leader and state’s rural development minister Pankaja Munde found herself in a tight spot on Tuesday after a colleague reminded her of her promise two days earlier.

At the rally in Malegaon on Sunday — organised to push for reservations for the Dhangars or shepherd community — Munde had vowed not to enter her cabin at the state government’s headquarters until the quota was granted. On Tuesday morning, as she reached Mantralaya, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator and Dhangar community representative Ramrao Wadkute stopped her at the gates, and asked her to stick to her pledge. Munde was quick to respond: She insisted her promise was for the next term of her government, not the current one.

On Sunday, Munde had said the BJP came to power with the support of the Dhangars. “I am sure the support will repeat in the 2019 elections. I, daughter of Gopinath Munde, pledge not to enter my Mantralaya cabin until the reservation is given,” she said in her rally speech.

Clarifying the statement on Tuesday, Munde said her words had been twisted. She replayed the video clip of her speech in front of reporters, and said, “You can listen to the statement again. I clearly said, and stand by it, that the BJP government will come to power again, but it would not be possible for us to enter Mantralaya until the Dhangars are given reservation before the elections.”

The minister said Wadkute’s attempt to stop her was a stunt. “He should first ask his party leaders, who have deprived the community despite having been voted to power for years because of their support,” said Munde, adding, “I do not sit at my cabin for fun but for the common people.”

Wadkute hit back: “What Munde is saying is a blatant lie.”

Munde, however, said she was not aware of the status of the government’s stand on reservation to the Dhangars. “I am not the minister handling the issue of reservation to Dhangars. I have been told the government has received a report from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences on the reservation. I am not sure about the further course of action,” she said.

The Dhangar community, which currently gets reservation under the Nomadic Tribes category, want to be included in the Scheduled Tribes category in Maharashtra

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First Published: Jan 09, 2019 00:29 IST