Parli: Pankaja Munde, daughter of late Gopinath Munde, is now preparing herself to take the mantle left behind by her father.
The 35 year old MLA, seeking re-elected from a constituency that had been nurtured by her father who, if alive, would have been a Union Minister and core part of PM Modi's team. He also aspired to be the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Now Pankaja Munde sees herself as the heir apparent of her father..
"I have never thought of portraying myself as the chief minister of Maharashtra. But after Mundesaheb, I took over and the people, of course, want me to take his place. That's the people's aspiration, what they want... because they could not see my dad there (as the chief minister). If my party asks me to be the Chief Minister, I will not say no," she said.
So far the BJP has not declared its Chief Ministerial candidate. Gopinath Munde's supporters look at Pankaja as A natural choice for CM post.
Pitted against Pankaja is her estranged cousin Dhananjay Munde, who had severed ties with the family after differences cropped up between him and Gopinath Munde. Dhananjay then moved to the NCP - the party of Gopinath Munde's political arch rival Sharad Pawar.
"Even sympathy for her father's death cannot get her votes. As an MLA, there is little she has done. The BJP had never projected Mundesaheb as the CM candidate. Why will they do that for his daughter?" Dhananjay asks.
Pankaja Munde had tried to position herself as the heir apparent of Gopinath Munde when she campaigned for her father earlier this year. She also carried out the funeral rites of her father which are traditionally carried out by male members of the family.