Dhananjay Munde secured his berth in the state council on a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ticket yesterday, two years after he rebelled against his uncle, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Gopinath Munde. Dhananjay winning the seat had become a prestigious issue for Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who played a crucial role in roping him to embarrass Munde on his home turf in Beed.
The by-election saw three nephews helping each other. With Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray announcing that his party, which has 12 MLAs, would remain neutral, Ajit Pawar, nephew of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, ensured that Dhananjay emerged victorious.
A senior leader from the Democratic Front (DF) government said Raj knows how a nephew suffers in a political family. Had the MNS chief decided to allow his 12 MLAs to vote, at least 11 would have been approached by Munde asking them to vote in favour of Prithviraj Kakde, an independent. Kakde lost to Dhananjay by a margin of 59 votes (106:165).
The by-election was important for Munde Sr, as he was keen on trouncing his nephew, who is likely to give him a tough time during the upcoming elections. The poll was necessitated after Dhananjay, who represented BJP in the state council then, resigned in July this year. Though Dhananjay won the election, Munde managed to wrest at least 10 votes from the NCP-Congress combine. This may upset the DF government.
In the 289-member house of state assembly, BJP has 47 and Shiv Sena has 45 members. Besides, the saffron alliance is supported by three to four independents. The Peasants and Workers Party of India (PWP), which has four elected members in the house, had promised to support the Sena- BJP candidate. Surprisingly, PWP member Dhairyashee Patil failed to show up. While Sena MLA Suresh Jain could not vote as he is in jail currently, CPM member Rajaram Ozare and Congress member Amit Deshmukh too remained absent.
As Gopinath Munde took keen interest in the by-poll, the NCP was extra cautious and held two meetings with the MLAs from the DF government. The party deputed three to four MLAs, who were camping at the Congress office in Vidhan Bhavan since early morning, to garner its support. Munde too held meetings with senior leaders from the saffron combine in the 3 days before the election.