Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had dissuaded Gopinath Munde from joining the Congress when the sulking Bharatiya Janata Party leader was planning a switch as he felt neglected, according to Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut.
“Pawar told Munde not to take such a step. He also told him that his demands would be accepted,” Raut, party spokesman, wrote in an article in ‘Utsav’ supplement of Sena mouthpiece Saamana.
Raut, executive editor of Saamana, said Munde, who was not feeling comfortable in his party, had approached Pawar and sought his advice on whether he should quit the BJP and join the Congress. “Pawar told Munde: The BJP will accept all your demands. Stay in the party,” Raut said.
Pawar advised BJP president Rajnath Singh, when the latter called on the Maratha strongman to discuss Munde’s possible defection, to stop the revolt. Munde and Pawar, BJP’s frontline leader in Maharashtra with impressive mass following, had adversarial relationship in state politics. However, like Pawar, Munde too did not allow political differences to overshadow personal equations and had friends across the political spectrum.
The debate over Munde’s ‘bad days’ in the BJP was fuelled last week by Pandurang Phundkar, a senior BJP leader in the state, who while paying tributes to the late leader in the state legislative council said he often sulked as he felt attempts were on by a section in the party to clip his wings after brother-in-law Pramod Mahajan’s death in 2006.
“Munde was, at one point, planning to move to the Congress, which was ready to reward him with a ministerial post at the Centre,” Phundkar had claimed in the House.