Munde ropes in Independent to take on estranged nephew
Senior BJP leader skips Lok Sabha debate on Food Security Bill to ensure a candidate is put up against Dhananjay, contesting state council bypoll on NCP ticket
The Pawars aren’t the only uncle-nephew medley in politics with a blow-hot-and-cold relationship. Having been involved in matters of the state for over four decades, senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde is no stranger to intrigue. But, the stakes are very different in the political battle he is presently engaged in. Munde, who is not inclined towards forgiving his nephew Dhananjay – he recently quit the saffron party to join NCP - has decided to make things tricky for the latter.
Yesterday, Munde camped in Mumbai and roped in an independent candidate to take on Dhananjay for a bypoll to the state council necessitated because of the resignation. Dhananjay was technically with BJP since last year when his father Pandit Anna quit the party to join NCP.
Interestingly, BJP withdrew its two official candidates, but Munde retained his supporter Prithviraj Kakde, a Baramati resident, to contest as an Independent. For this, Munde sought special permission from party chief Rajnath Singh to let the group’s state unit support the aspirant standing in the way of his nephew.
So keen was Munde in his bid to deny breathing space to Dhananjay that he chose to skip Lok Sabha proceedings and the crucial debate on Food Security Bill, despite him being the deputy leader of the party in the House. Instead, he was at Vidhan Bhavan on Monday where voting for the bypoll will take place on September 2.
When asked whether it was a Munde v/s Munde battle, he insisted that it was Munde v/s Kakde. Kakde will be supported by BJP, Shiv Sena and PWP members, as they have been opposing the Congress-led Democratic Front government. On a question whether he was going to approach MNS to vote in favour of his contender, Munde said the MLAs would vote according to their conscience, as the arithmetic of elections to state council was different. “They (NCP) have wrested a candidate from Beed (Dhananjay) to contest and I have given a hopeful from Baramati (Kakde),” said the leader.
As per existing equations, ruling Congress and NCP have 179 MLAs on their side. BJP, Shiv Sena and PWP have a contingent of 110 MLAs with them. Deputy CM Ajit Pawar is spearheading the election campaign of Dhananjay who has been acquainted with him for over two years. According to sources from BJP, the party was not keen to put up a nominee against Dhananjay, as his victory appears certain and the party does not want to expose its strength and weaknesses during the election.