By Sanjay Jog
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Gopinath Munde received a jolt when his elder brother, Pandit Anna, decided to join the ruling Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Pandit Anna, who has kept a low profile since his brother’s emergence in the state and national politics since 1980, would join the NCP at a rally in his home town, Parli, in Beed district on Thursday, in the presence of deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and state NCP chief Madhukar Pichad.
The development comes at a time when the state BJP unit is struggling to calm intra-party rivalries ahead of elections to 27 zilla parishads and 10 municipal corporations.
Munde’s problems are far from over. The former deputy chief minister is isolated within the party due to the widening gap between him and party president Nitin Gadkari. He was humbled on his home turf in Beed when the rebel nominee fielded by his nephew, Dhananjay (Pandit Anna’s son), trounced the candidate fielded by him in the recent elections to the chairmanship of the Parli municipal council. Munde, the BJP’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, was not reachable for comment.
Phulchand Karhad, NCP’s state general secretary, told Business Standard, “It is true Pandit Anna will join our party on January 19. His entry will benefit NCP a big way, as the party is making all efforts to consolidate in Beed district. NCP has five legislators and it controls a majority of local and civic bodies in the district.” Karhad, a former BJP member and confidante of Munde, said the latter had been rapidly loosing his grip in the district.
Pandit Anna accused Gopinath of ignoring the family. He said he looked after Gopinath after the loss of their father and worked hard for the latter’s growth in the state and national politics. But Gopinath challenged him and his nephew to contest on NCP’s official symbol. Pandit Anna also took on Gopinath for unilaterally announcing his decision to severe links with him and Dhananjay.
Munde accused Dhananjay of back-stabbing. He had earlier criticised Pawar for dividing the family. However, Dhananjay justified his decision to field a supporter against his uncle’s confidant, saying it was vote against middlemen in the party.
Though the state BJP has appointed a two-member committee to look into Dhananjay’s rebellion, the party is yet to take any disciplinary action against him.