Amid a cloud of speculation around his continuation in the party, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Gopinath Munde broke his silence on Friday over his meetings with leaders from other parties and the brewing discontent among party workers. Mr. Munde would be placing his grievances before the party leadership at a high-level meeting in Delhi on Saturday.
Mr. Munde's boycott of political rallies, his guarded rendezvous with Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and his disappointment over the appointment of party chief in Pune led to heavy speculation about his quitting the party.
On Friday, Eknath Khadse, Leader of the Opposition, met Mr. Munde. “Till yesterday [Thursday] none from the BJP, either from Maharashtra or the Centre contacted me. No one tried to understand my pain. Mr. Khadse met me and invited me to attend the meeting of party leadership on Saturday. I have accepted the invitation. Venkaiah Naidu also called me and directed me to attend. Therefore, at the meeting I will air my grievances and the discontent among workers,” Mr. Munde told reporters here.
He remained non-committal when asked whether he would quit or stay in the BJP and whether he had kept his options open. “I will decide my next step after discussing with the party leadership,” he said.
He denied meeting Congress leader and Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in Mumbai, despite a raft of media reports.
Dismissing speculation over the possibility of his joining the Shiv Sena, Mr. Munde said he met Mr. Thackeray on two occasions. “Mr. Thackeray did not invite me to join the Sena, nor did I express a desire to join him.” Mr. Munde said he had been in political life for 40 years owing to which he shared cordial relations with many leaders across the political spectrum. “These relationships go beyond politics,” he said. Mr. Munde said, Mr. Thackeray had advised him to remain in the BJP. “He said I had an important role in bringing about the alliance of the Sena, the BJP and the Republican Party of India.”