Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) top brass in the state were left scratching their heads after their senior leader Gopinath Munde spun a wrong ‘un, by skipping a crucial meet with the national president Rajnath Singh yesterday.
Singh had called for a meeting with the state unit and top leaders to discuss strategy for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. However, Munde, the ex-state BJP president and currently amongst the top leaders in state, decided to give this meeting a slip, and proceeded to the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) to file his nomination for the presidential post.
Munde did return for the meeting at 6 pm, which was being held at Rangsharda in Bandra (W), after filing his nomination, but it was too late, as the meeting was concluding. What set tongues wagging was that Munde had initially decided to file the nomination at 1 pm, as the meeting was scheduled for 4 pm, but he left the hall at 3.30 pm, and reached MCA at 4.45 pm. Moreover, it wasn’t the last day to file nominations, as the deadline is October 11.
According to a party insider, Munde returned when the meeting was about to get over. He said, “We thought that today was the last day to file nominations for the MCA presidential elections and hence were under the impression that Mundeji was in a hurry and therefore chose to give the meeting a slip. But, only later we realised that it was not the last day and are trying to figure out why he chose to file his nomination today and not attend the meeting that was for the polls.”
“He [Munde] has the biggest mass following in the state and he knows Maharashtra politics better than anyone else in the party. He isn’t someone who should skip such crucial meets, which was attended by all top leaders, that are meant to chalk out the future strategy for elections,” said another leader from the party.
Giving Munde the benefit of the doubt, state BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis said, “Yes, Mundeji came a bit late, but he had the permission of the national president Rajnathji to go for the filing of the nomination of MCA. He came and presented his part. He didn’t miss anything important in the meeting.”
Munde speaks at MCA
Munde did not comment on why he skipped the meeting.
But he did speak on why he decided to contest the MCA elections and his cricket plans for the state.
“There is no attention given towards the welfare of the clubs. They [MCA] do not give any support to clubs. Cricketers come up from these clubs. That’s when I felt the need to fight. One of the issues that I came across while talking to club members is pertaining to one of the issues at the Bandra-Kurla Complex club where Shirke has been given the charge of developing the club. 1,500 memberships are with the MCA and clubs were promised these memberships but nothing has been done so far.”
“Another thing I noticed is that the BCCI gives Rs 35 to 40 crore every year to the MCA. It was decided to set aside Rs 5 crore every year as corpus fund. It was done only for one year. It should have been done annually. Garware Club House has been given around 1 lakh FSI (Floor Space Index) by the MCA. But nobody knows what is the whole deal about? Whether it is on rent or if we have sold it to them… there are many questions regarding that. The secret agreement between the MCA and Garware needs to be made public. I will try to bring all such issues to light. Mumbai is the hub of cricket. If clubs are strengthened, Mumbai cricket will prosper.”
Speaking about politics and cricket, Munde said. “I would not like to mix politics with sports. I am not against any individual. I am the first applicant to file my nomination for the president’s post. I have no idea who will contest against me. I had earlier decided to contest the vice-president’s post, but looking at the support I decided to contest for the president’s post. This is not a political battle.”
-- Harit Joshi