Munde presentes OBC face of BJP in Maharashtra
Gopinath Munde, the OBC face of BJP in Maharashtra, was all set to spearhead the party’s campaign in the upcoming Assembly polls in the state but fate willed otherwise
Inducted into the Union Cabinet for the first time a week ago the 64-year-old Rural Development Minister, who died today following a road accident here, was a five-time MLA and had always harbored the ambition to become first BJP Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Enthused by the landslide victory of the Sena-BJP alliance in the Lok Sabha elections, Munde, a former Deputy CM of Maharashtra, started nursing hopes of staking a claim to the chief ministership that did not go well with Shiv Sena.
In an oblique rejection, the Shiv Sena had yesterday said that its leader Uddhav Thackeray would be the chief ministerial candidate under the agreement that Narendra Modi would be the Prime Minister and the chief minister position would go to Sena.
A known detractor of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Munde was credited with neutralizing the Maratha politician’s influence to such an extent that the Sena-BJP combine came to power in the 1995 Assembly polls and he became the Deputy Chief Minister.
Brother-in-law of late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, Munde hails from a poor family in the backward Marathwada region and was brought into politics by the late BJP leader Vasantrao Bhagwat, who also groomed several others including Pramod Mahajan.
Prime Minister Modi along with the BJP leadership had handpicked Munde to lead the party’s campaign in the state where assembly polls are due in four months.
Munde, who was the Deputy Leader of Opposition in 15th Lok Sabha, won the Lok Sabha polls this time despite Pawar making the Beed seat a prestige issue.
He also served as general secretary of the party at the national level and as Chairman of the Committee on Chemicals and Fertilizers in the outgoing Lok Sabha.
The most prominent leader of the party in Maharashtra for over two decades along with his late brother-in-law Pramod Mahajan, Munde was the architect of the social engineering formula by cobbling up the opposition ‘Mahayuti’ alliance which got 42 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state in the recent Lok Sabha polls.
Munde was the Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly during 1992-1995. He donned various roles in Maharashtra including that of Deputy Chief Minister from 1995-1999.
He began his political journey in college with ABVP. He was also a part of agitation against state of emergency imposed by the then PM Indira Gandhi.
The turning point of his career was his joining the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He was later made president of the Maharashtra unit of the BJP’s youth wing, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha.