Mumbai: Former minister Pankaja Munde's statement that she would not quit the Bharatiya Janata Party but the party was free to decide on her continuation, has sparked a heated debate. BJP associate MP Sanjay Kakde said Munde, who could not handle a small constituency like Parli on her home turf and suffered defeat, should not be taken seriously. He further alleged, it was Munde's pathetic attempt to put the onus of her loss in the assembly election on the former chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis, and blackmail the party.
Kakde's scathing attack came a day after Munde, at a rally in Beed district on the occasion of her father Gopinath Munde's birth anniversary, rubbished rumours of her leaving the party, but made her disappointment clear by announcing she would no longer be a part of the party's state core team.
Munde had lost the poll for failing to address issues faced by various communities during her five-year tenure as a senior minister, said Kakde. ''Munde's decision to hold a hunger strike to attract the attention of the leadership to the issues of Marathwada and a statewide
'Mashaal' rally in Maharashtra from January next year will not have any impact on the BJP. The Maratha, OBC and Muslim communities were not happy with her and that's why she was defeated,'' he noted.
However, Kakde was repudiated by Munde's uncle Prakash Mahagjan, who said Kakde's remark was irresponsible as it would provide ammunition to the political opponents. ''Munde worked hard not just for her Parli seat and Beed district but as a minister for the entire state. She bagged 92,000 votes because of her work. She also campaigned for party nominees and most of them won the election,'' he said.
Mahajan said Munde had clarified she would not quit the party but draw the leadership's attention to the problems in its functioning.
''Munde has reiterated, she is not anti-BJP nor against Fadnavis. She was disappointed over the manner in which rumours were being spread about her quitting the party,'' he noted. He suggested that the BJP leadership further consolidate the party's hold, instead of making it a party of a few leaders and communities.
Further, her close associate and BJP legislator from Parvati constituency in Pune, Madhuri Misal also came to Munde's support. Misal strongly condemned Kakde's statement, terming it a personal one. ''Munde is not staging a rebellion but will be touring the state, taking up issues faced by all castes and communities. She is a respected party leader and will continue to command respect,'' she viewed.
Meanwhile, former minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule, who was denied an assembly ticket from Kamthi in Nagpur district, said there was no neglect or injustice of other backward classes in the BJP. Bawankule, who hails from the Teli community, was reacting to former minister
Eknath Khadse's statement that the party was creating such an environment that people were considering leaving. This was not a good situation and not acceptable to Maharashtra, Khadse had said.
Khadse and former legislator Prakash Shendge, from the Dhangar community, have stepped up their attack on the party for its neglect of OBC leaders.