Mumbai, Jun 21: Sulking BJP leader Gopinath Munde today stayed away from a crucial meeting of party legislators, convened by Maharashtra unit chief Sudhir Mungantiwar in the backdrop of the OBC leader's “rebellion.” Leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse, however, told reporters after the meeting that he was confident that Munde would not leave the party.
“I am confident Munde will never leave the party,” he told reporters at Vidhan Bhawan here.Asked if a resolution was sought to be tabled at the meeting, Khadse said the BJP state unit was “cohesive and united” and despite Munde's recent moves “no such resolution was brought in the meeting and neither is there a need for it.”
Nana Patole, a Munde supporter MLA, said the message inviting Munde for the meeting could not be conveyed. “When we noticed this, we decided to meet Munde,” he said. Accordingly, senior leaders left for Munde's residence in Worli after the meeting, he added.
There were also reports that only Khadse, a Munde supporter, and Mungantiwar, said to be from the Nitin Gadkari camp, spoke at the meeting.The meeting followed speculation that after failing to get his demands fulfilled by party leadership, Munde is on his way to join the Congress.
Munde is reportedly disgruntled after BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, once his junior in state unit, spurned the former's demands to make him the Opposition leader in the State Assembly and to make supporter Pandurang Phundkar the state BJP president in place of Mungantiwar.
Munde supporters who attended the meeting include legislators Pasha Patel, Raosaheb Danve, Prakash Shendge and Munde's daughter Pankaja Palve and nephew Dhananjay Munde. Earlier today, Mumbai BJP chief Raj Purohit met Munde at his residence. There were also reports that Munde met his long-time friend Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who also stays in the same building as his, but there was no confirmation from either side.
A section of media reported that during his three-day stay in Delhi, Munde, a prominent OBC leader of the state, established contact with Congress in-charge of Maharashtra Mohan Prakash. However, Prakash has denied meeting Munde.A leading Marathi TV channel last night aired what it claimed was an exclusive report saying Munde will be offered a Central ministerial berth by Congress if he joins it
Talking to reporters at his residence after the meeting, Munde maintained that he was still in BJP. “I am still in BJP. I pity those spreading news reports against me,” he said.
Munde made it clear that he was not invited for today's meeting. “I am saddened by the happenings today. I did not get an invite for the meeting even till its fag end.” “I will take a decision after the party leadership clears its stand,” he said when asked about his future course of action.
“I have not gone anywhere. I will take a decision only after consulting colleagues,” he said.
Munde said he did not aspire for Opposition leader'spost in the state, as reported in a section of media. PTI