The supporters of sulking Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gopinath Munde continued to throng his Worli residence in Mumbai on Thursday, hoping that the June 18 meeting in Delhi, convened by the party to discus his fate, would go their leader's way.
Ever since Munde supporter Yogesh Gogawale was sidelined for the post of Pune BJP president, and Gadkari loyalist Vikas Mathkari was named instead, the OBC leader has been sulking, leading to speculation that he may be on the verge of leaving the party which he, along with his late brother-in-law Pramod Mahajan, once helped grow in Maharashtra.
Over the last few days, Munde has met prominent leaders from Congress, Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party.
On Thursday, Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and senior state BJP leader Eknath Khadse, Leader of Opposition in Council Pandurang Phundkar, and party MLA Pasha Patel met him. Khadse, who met senior BJP leaders in Delhi on Wednesday, said all issues concerning Munde would be discussed at the June 18 meeting.
The meeting is likely to be attended by BJP president Nitin Gadkari, senior leaders L K Advani, Venkaiah Naidu and Sushma Swaraj; Khadse and state BJP chief Sudhir Mungantiwar.
Munde too has been invited to the meeting, Khadse said. "During my meeting with senior party leaders, I put forth issues concerning Munde. The discussion was positive. Everyone was of the view that the issues can be resolved only through discussion. That is why, Munde has been requested to attend the meeting," Khadse said in Mumbai.
"Munde has been leading BJP in Maharashtra for the last 30 years and has contributed immensely to the growth of BJP in the state," he said.
"Munde feels that he should be taken into confidence when
decisions pertaining to the state are taken. And it is quite natural also. Many a time, decisions are taken here in his absence as he is in Delhi. It will be better if decisions are taken after consulting him," Khadse said.
"I have conveyed this stance of Munde to the central leaders. They also feel that as he has contributed so much (to the growth of BJP) in the state, he should be consulted in the decision making," Khadse said.
Munde wanted Gogawale as Pune unit President and senior party leader, Venkaiah Naidu had gauged the views of the partymen and submitted his report to the state unit president, who announced Mathkari's name for the post.
However, this is not the first time that Munde has made public his disappointment within the party.
In 2008, Gadkari supporter Madhu Chavan's appointment as chief of the Mumbai party unit had prompted Munde to quit all party posts.
After an overwhelming number of BJP legislators extended support to Munde, the party leadership replaced Chavan with Gopal Shetty, a Munde supporter.