The Bharatiya Janata Party gathered its MLAs, MLCs and MPs in Maharashtra on Tuesday for a brief meeting to discuss the issue of party leader Gopinath Munde, but ended up with no real results. Later in the evening, Mr. Munde left for New Delhi amid speculation that he was going to meet Congress leaders.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan too left for New Delhi on Tuesday night, official sources said. It is learnt that Mr. Munde will meet BJP veteran L. K. Advani in New Delhi. He had already spoken to Sushma Swaraj last night.
While the BJP called the meeting to apprise its members of the situation arising out of Mr. Munde's likely exit from the party, Mr. Munde was miffed that he was not invited for the meeting and did not attend it. However, his daughter and MLA, Pankaja, was present. Only two MLAs of the 46 were absent and most of the MPs and MLCs had turned up. However, BJP sources said, Mr. Munde's phone was switched off and Eknath Khadse, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, and Girish Mahajan, MLA, had called Ms. Pankaja and left a message for her father.
Mr. Munde told reporters that he had not heard from State BJP president Sudhir Mungantiwar since May 27, and had only met him in New Delhi. He was not invited for Tuesday's meeting. He clarified that he had not asked to be made Maharashtra in-charge, and he had not even asked to be Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly. He said his demands were for party workers and their issues, and he would fight for that till his patience was exhausted.
‘No resolution passed'
Mr. Khadse told the media that there was no resolution passed in the meeting and clarified that Mr. Munde was very much in the party. He called on party members not to fall prey to rumours. He said talks were on with Mr. Munde, and they were positive, and something would be worked out over the next few days.
Four MLAs supporting Mr. Munde wanted a resolution passed at the meeting, expressing faith in his leadership. However, Mr. Khadse said there were many questions on Mr. Munde, and he clarified that discussions were on with the Central leadership. Two of Mr. Munde's supporters, Sambhaji Pawar and Prakash Shendge, wanted to speak, but Mr. Khadse said if they had something to say they could meet him in person and talk to him. Two others, Madhuri Misal and Pasha Patel, complained that they were not allowed to speak at the meeting.
Later Mr. Khadse, along with Mr. Mungantiwar and Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, Pandurang Phundkar, met Mr. Munde at his residence to placate him. Mr. Mungantiwar said the three of them met Mr. Munde and said that he should not leave the party which he had helped form in Maharashtra.
Mr. Munde's residence in Worli saw some of his supporters hanging around. Mr. Mungantiwar said the three of them had tried to tell Mr. Munde that he had formed the party in the State to take on the Congress and he had once said he would stay in the BJP till his last breath. The party had agreed to meet most of his demands but Mr. Munde said he had not asked for anything. He added that he would tell the leaders in New Delhi about his demands.
“The meeting was positive and Mr. Munde spoke nicely to us, but now we learn he is going to Delhi to meet Congress leaders,” Mr. Mungantiwar added. The BJP did not comment on Mr. Munde's meeting with a Congress leader in New Delhi.