Pankaja Munde lambasts adversaries at Dussehra rally
Pankaja Munde said she will quit the day she fails her people. File pic
High-voltage drama unfolded at Bhagwangad in Ahmednagar district on Tuesday at a Dussehra rally organised by Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde. She displayed a massive show of strength, getting over a lakh Other Backward Class people (OBC) at the religious place, which has, of late, been mired in controversy because its chief, Namdev Shastri, had denied her permission to deliver a speech in his fiefdom. The district administration had asked Pankaja to organise the rally at the bottom of the hill.
Pankaja got even with Shastri, when her supporters who were denied entry to the temple on the hilltop, asked her to defy sanction by riding on a chariot up to the hill. The minister refused the greetings offered by Shastri, and headed for the sanctum sanctorum.
Appealing to her supporters to avoid a law and order situation, Pankaja lambasted her adversaries in the opposition and in her own party. She has faced controversies and even strained relations with CM Devendra Fadnavis, following a cabinet rejig and other matters.
‘Born to eliminate rakshasa’
“They are trying to trap me like Abhimanyu, but I too am born to eliminate rakshasa (the evil). They have levelled all kinds of allegations against me, but since they cannot prove them, they are trying to malign my image. I carry my resignation with me. I will quit the day I fail my people,” she told the massive rally that was held in tune with a tradition that her father Gopinath Munde had started many years ago. But the senior Munde would always organise the rally on the hill.
“I know who is behind this. Only a fool can think that there would be trouble up there on the hill, but everything will be alright down below here,” she said, suggesting that the district administration had acted on the behest of some people in her own government while putting restrictions on her. “I’m not scared of anyone. Am I a terrorist? Am I a gunda?” she said, adding Shastri will have no choice but to invite her for Dussehra festival next year.
Pankaja was joined by her younger sister, MP Preetam Munde-Khade, Dairy Development Minister Mahadev Jankar, Water Conservation Minister Ram Shinde, Minister of State Sadabhau Khot, Shetkari Sanghatna chief Raju Shetti, and many other allies and BJP leaders.
Minister gives it directly
Jankar, however, said what Pankaja avoided saying directly. He said Pankaja’s estranged cousin Dhananjay Munde, opposition leader in the legislative council, and NCP leader Ajit Pawar were behind the conspiracy against her. “Pawar’s crony (Dhananjay) and the Mahant (Shastri) have played foul. They will have to pay for it,” he said. In response, Dhananjay told media that a brother would never conspire against his sister. “I will speak further on the issue later. But let me tell you that I have not done anything to trouble my sister, especially in the matters related to Bhagwangad.”