Rift between Munde and Gadkari camps in BJP may be out in open again as party insiders say visiting senior leader has kept all day for public functions and will leave city soon after events get over, giving him no time to campaign for Khadakwasla election candidate chosen by rival faction.
Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde has a packed schedule today with various public functions to attend in the city. And campaigning for Bhimrao Tapkir, the party candidate for the Khadakwasla assembly bypoll, does not seem to be on his agenda. Party insiders said Munde was scheduled to leave the city immediately after attending the functions organised by various committees. If this happens, it will be indication enough that all is not well in the BJP.
Caught in the middle: Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde, Khadakwasla
bypoll candidate Bhimrao Tapkir and party president Nitin Gadkari.
Tapkir was chosen as the candidate by the Gadkari camp in the party
It seems the issue of appointment of Vikas Mathkari -- a leader believed to be loyal to party national president Nitin Gadkari -- as BJP city unit president has split the party into two camps. Though the BJP has often said it is not a divided house, there have been several incidents in the past that show the Munde and the Gadkari camps do not see eye to eye (see box).
BJP vs BJP
Last week, party state unit president Sudhir Mungantiwar announced in a press conference in the city that Munde would campaign for Tapkir. Yet, the buzz in party circles is that as Tapkir has been chosen by Mathkari, leaders in the Munde camp will be staying away from campaigning for the party candidate. The leaders from the Munde were also absent at the time of filing of nomination by Tapkir for the bypoll that is scheduled for October 13.
BJP leaders who are known to be Munde loyalists said they had not been informed about the campaigning and what they were supposed to do. "We didn't get any message from the party chief regarding my participation in the campaign for Tapkir. They (Gadkari camp in the city) had set up the system for the bypoll, where all have been given their responsibility," said senior leader Yogesh Gogawale, who is said to be from the Munde camp. "As of now, I have not been asked for any task."
Munde is expected in the city at 11 am and will be busy in public functions till evening. Party insiders said it would be almost impossible for him to find time for campaigning as he needs to leave the city immediately after the scheduled functions to be able to celebrate Dussehra tomorrow.
THE rift between BJP leaders in the city has been on display on various occasions in the past. When the party was protesting against Suresh Kalmadi of the Congress and demanding he resign as an MP, the Yogesh Gogawale camp and the Vikas Mathkari camp organised separate protests. Then, Munde supporter Gogawale and his loyalists did not participate in a dharna organised by the city unit of the BJP to support Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's Sadbhavna Yatra. Recently, at the time of filing nomination form by BJP Khadakwasla bypoll candidate candidate Bhimrao Tapkir, the entire Munde camp remained absent even as others turned up to show support for the party candidate.