Amid reports that she was sulking over her MP sister Pritam Munde not finding a place in the newly-reshuffled Union cabinet and many Bharatiya Janata Party office-bearers from Beed in Maharashtra resigning in protest, party national secretary Pankaja Munde on Tuesday denied she was using any "pressure tactics" and said she will always try to avoid a "dharmayuddha".
Addressing BJP workers who came to Mumbai from Munde's home turf Beed and other parts of the state, Pankaja hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda as her leaders.
Invoking the epic Mahabharata, Pankaja said the righteous demands made by the Pandavas were rejected by the Kauravas.
"....I will like to continue to work at a place as long as there is 'Ram' in it. If there is no Ram, I will see what to do," she said in Marathi.
The word "Ram" is loosely used in public communication denoting whether it is worth doing some work.
"(In Mahabharat), the Pandavs always tried hard to avoid the 'dharmayuddha' with the Kauravs. The good person, always tries to avoid such war and I will do the same as long as it is possible,” Pankaja said without naming anyone.
In a veiled swipe, Pankaja also said that some companions of the 'Kauravas' wanted to be with the Pandavas from their heart.
Pankaja, daughter of BJP stalwart from Vanjari community late Gopinath Munde, also said she would always protect her fortress and keep it strong.
Pankaja had served as Rural Development Minister during the BJP-led government from 2014 to 2019.
She lost the 2019 assembly polls from Parli seat to her estranged cousin and Nationalist Congress Party leader Dhananjay Munde.
"The Pandavs had placed a very small demand before the Kauravs demanding (administrative rights of) five villages but it was rejected which resulted in a 'dharmayuddha'," she said.
“....If the roof comes down, (I) will decide what to do next,” she said cryptically.
Asserting that she cannot be written off, Pankaja said, “I had lost an election but I am not finished. If I had finished already, there would not have been efforts to finish me. I am standing here before you because of my supporters,” Pankaja said.
More than 20 office-bearers of the BJP from Beed district had resigned last week including a member of the Zilla Parishad and a member of the Panchayat Samiti besides BJP district general secretary, student wing president, district vice president, tehsil president, and district vice president of the BJP youth wing, a local leader said on Sunday.
Pankaja on Sunday attended a meeting of BJP national secretaries in Delhi convened by Nadda and also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi with other office-bearers.
Speaking about her Delhi visit, Pankaja said, “I had gone to Delhi to attend a meeting of the national secretaries of the party. It triggered some speculation in Maharashtra that I was scolded by national leaders. Look at my face now, and tell me whether I look like a person who got scolded".
She said Nadda had asked her to convince my supporters. "Incidentally, the news of I was scolded by PM Modi followed," she said.
Pankaja claimed she had refused to accept a Union ministry offered to her after the death of her father Gopinath Munde in a car accident in 2014.
"Why would I demand a ministerial berth now,” she questioned.
Pankaja also stressed that she was not greedy for any post. “I did not join the politics for any post. My politics do not revolve around the ending careers of others. If I have to mount pressure on someone, this is not the place. I need a bigger place for that kind of work,” she added.
After her address, when reporters asked her why she did not mention the name of former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis as her leader, Pankaja said, “I work at the national level and hence my leaders are Modi, Shah and Nadda.”
She did not take names of either Fadnavis, current Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra assembly, or state BJP president Chandrakant Patil.
However, she said that there was a "strong perception" among the party workers that she was constantly getting sidelined.
"I have asked the party workers not to submit their resignations. I do not need them to resign from their local posts to mount pressure on senior BJP leaders. I have had proper communication with my leaders in New Delhi,” she told reporters.
Pankaja said many people are feeling strongly that she was being sidelined purposefully.
"My name was slated for the post of an MLC but Ramesh Karad was chosen that time and I was made to withdraw my form. A similar thing happened with Bhagwat Karad (MoS in Union cabinet from Aurangabad) also. When my name was discussed. I had even attended his nomination to Rajya Sabha. Instead of me, he was given the ticket to Rajya Sabha,” she said.
Pankaja said she was intimated about Karad, groomed by late Gopinath Munde, getting inducted into the Union cabinet at the last moment.
"Because of these incidents, supporters of late Munde feel that we are being denied an opportunity at every front,” the former minister said.