Blow for Munde as BJP nominee loses civic poll

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 26, 2011 19:51 hrs

Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde received a major setback today when a panel led by his legislator-nephew Dhananjay Munde defeated the party’s official candidate Jugal Kishor Lohiya in the elections to the Parli municipality.

If Parli is Munde’s home-town in Maharashtra’s underdeveloped Marat-hwada region, Lohiya — who contested as president of the civic body — is his close confidant. The winner for the post was Deepak Deshmukh of the Dhananjay Group.

Munde’s panel got mere six votes, while Dhananjay — he breached the party diktat to form a separate group of 11 members for the 32-member Parli municipality — got 26 votes. All this, despite a recent patch-up Munde Senior, 62, had with the party’s national president Nitin Gadkari in August, ending a rebellion he led for a while. Crucially, Munde supporters continue to be neglected during key appointments to party postions.

Sunil Phad, who was appointed as the leader of Dhananjay Munde-led group, got elected to the post of deputy president. Dhanajay succeeded in garnering the support of 15 members of the Congress and NCP.

Only that disciplinary action awaits him from the party leadership, as announced by BJP state unit chief Sudhir Mungantiwar yesterday.

Overall, the NCP outsmarted its ruling Congress ally by winning 1,124 seats against 1,112 by the Congress in the elections to the 195 municipalities. The results for 4,240 seats were released by the state election commission today.

On his part, Dhananjay is expected to join the ruling Nationalist Congress Party. In fact, he has been in constant touch with NCP veteran Ajit Pawar, the state’s deputy chief minister. Pawar, who does not enjoy cordial relations with Munde Senior, is believed to have extended all necessary support for Dhananjay’s victory.

Dhananjay hailed poll results as people’s victory and a vote against the “middlemen” in the BJP. “I am prepared to reply to the party against any disciplinary action,” he added.

Munde dubbed tonight’s result as the result of an attack against him in the dark.

Earlier, Dhananjay had openly expressed displeasure for excluding him from party decisions since Munde succeeded in getting his daughter Pankaja a party ticket in the 2009 assembly elections from Parli Assembly constituency. Ever since her election, Dhananjay has often complained about being sidetracked by his uncle and mentor.

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