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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Taking dad’s legacy forward, says Pankaja Munde

Updated on: 01 May,2024 06:18 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Sameer Surve |

Pankaja Munde tells mid-day she is not merely an OBC leader, but will take along every community, including minorities

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Taking dad’s legacy forward, says Pankaja Munde

BJP candidate Pankaja Munde during her campaign trail at Beed. Pic/Nimesh Dave

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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Taking dad’s legacy forward, says Pankaja Munde

Portraying herself as the leader of all deprived sectors of society, the BJP candidate from Beed, Pankaja Munde, said she’s the person not only OBCs but also Marathas as well as members of all minorities can look to for help. Taking time out of her busy schedule, Munde caught up with mid-day for a brief interview during the campaign and spoke about issues ranging from reservation to development to the environment. Excerpts:

How are you finding the race so far?
I have taken these elections very seriously and have not wasted a single minute. I have been working tirelessly and I am sure the result will be in my favour.

It must be challenging to maintain the standard set by the late Gopinath Munde. The party was at its peak during his time. Do you feel any pressure?
Basically, I do not see it as a challenge. I am very much a part of whatever my father, the late Gopinath Munde, was doing. I was part of his team, then and always. Whenever he won with a good margin, I was part of that team. Even then, I had contributed very, very strongly. We are replicating the same template and even now most of the team that was working under him is now with me. We are working strategically. There are some new issues which we are dealing with. We are meeting the last person in the constituency and seeking blessings, support and votes.
People see you as an OBC leader. The state government has started issuing Kunbi certificates to Marathas, which upset OBCs. The Maratha reservation issue poses a challenge for the BJP.
I have been studying these issues with a lot of concern. Perception and reality are not going together, hand in hand. Matters are being perceived differently by different communities. There is a correct way to handle this. Everything should be properly explained in a perspective, and people should be able to perceive what is conveyed. It is quite a complicated situation right now. The issue is not dominant in all of Maharashtra but in a few districts. I was born into an OBC community and am very proud of it, but I am not just an OBC leader, but will keep fighting for the rights of all communities, including the Marathas, minorities and the deprived sectors. Leadership is leadership. It should be for all. I look at it that way. One is born in a certain community, but the responsibilities of a leader are different, encompassing all communities.
The BJP is seeing more negativity in rural areas than urban regions due to crop prices, reservations and other such factors.
As I said, how people look at this government, how we talk and how we perceive are very important. For me, it is very important when I am dealing with people and delivering speeches. It is very important for me that people reciprocate and react to what I say correctly. There will be differences. There will be instances when people like a leader, but not the party and vice versa. People have expectations and my task as a candidate is to understand and convey what the party has done and will be doing. I won’t say there are no problems. We are here to understand the issues and problems of the people. But they can be resolved. That assurance should be given to people. Then they will trust you.
Will the Maratha reservation issue have an impact on the election?
As I said, rural people are confused, and urban people are with us. People who lack the facts and knowledge will have issues. But people who have knowledge and facts will be with us. In fact, people are always with us. Intellectual people are always with us and farmers convince them. And the reservation will be there, and it will slowly fade away.
Unemployment is a major issue. The needs of the constituency have changed. During Gopinath Munde’s time, an industrial hub was a necessity. Today, an IT park is needed for jobs. What is your take on this?
Yes. Munde-ji’s time was different. That time there was a need for basic infrastructure. We tried to accomplish this in the last 10 years. We have built national highways and small connections to villages. We implemented the Mukhyamantri Gram Sadak Yojana and water conservation for villages. We are working on the water grid also. The railway line reaches Amalner. Now, it will be extended to the next destination. All these things are required to become an industrial hub. We have done all that. The next phase will be getting investment for the district, some nice projects where we will be able to help the unemployed.
Cities are developing but solid waste management and other environmental concerns remain
We have to make pollution norms very, very strict. It really hurts me to see trash lying around. I see a lot of plastic floating in the water or in rivers. It is quite painful. We have to really work on this.

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