Mumbai, Dec 26: Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde was today unable to overcome a tough challenge from within his own clan, when the nominee fielded by his nephew Dhananjay Munde, a BJP MLC, trounced the candidate fielded by the former deputy chief minister.
Deepak Deshmukh, backed by Dhananjay, today won the election to the chairmanship of Parli municipal council in Marathwada region.
While Deshmukh polled 26 votes, Jugal Kishore Lohia, a Gopinath Munde loyalist and BJP's official nominee, polled only six.
Today's development has led to speculation in the state political circles that Dhananjay may be on the way to join NCP, against the backdrop of reports that NCP leader Ajit Pawar played a role behind the scenes in Dhananjay's rebellion.
Reacting to the debacle, Gopinath Munde said the result was not unexpected. “For me this election was a symbolic one. It was said (by Dhananjay) that there was more faith in me than in the God. I just wanted to test that,” he said.
“We (BJP) had won a clear majority (in council polls) and there was no need to seek cooperation of others. I want to apologise to people of Parli that I could not retain that success due to treachery of some people,” he said.
“I cared for Dhananjay more than a son,” said Munde, who has three daughters, one of them a BJP MLA.
Maharashtra BJP president Sudhir Mungantiwar said the party had issued a whip to all party councillors to vote for Lohiya. “We will act against those who violated the whip,” he said.
Dhananjay said his plea to field “anyone other than Lohiya” was rejected by Munde and as such, he had no other choice.