Pankaja Munde removes ‘BJP’ from bio, party dismisses quitting rumours

Munde was present in all core committee meetings of the state BJP unit held before the formation of the new government led by Sena. Photo: PTI

After BJP leader Pankaja Munde’s recent social media post fuelled speculation about her next political move, Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil on Monday said she was not leaving the party.

Munde, who lost the Assembly polls to her cousin and NCP rival Dhananjay Munde in a bitter contest from Parli seat, wrote she needs time to introspect and will speak to supporters on December 12 – the birth anniversary of her father and former state deputy chief minister Gopinath Munde who died in a car accident in 2014. She also removed her party’s name from her Twitter bio.

“The BJP leaders are in touch with Pankaja Munde. She is introspecting after her defeat but it does not mean she is leaving the BJP,” Patil told reporters.

Refuting Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut’s claim that many leaders were keen on joining the Uddhav Thackeray-led party, Patil said, “The accidental government that has come up in Maharashtra is spreading such baseless news. She may be having good family relations with Thackerays but it does not mean she is joining the Sena.”

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Munde said her future journey needs to be decided against the backdrop of current political changes. “Looking at the changed political scenario in the state, there is a need to think and decide the way ahead. I need time for some 8-10 days to communicate with myself.”

Munde also invited her supporters to her gathering on December 12. “What to do next? Which path to be taken? What can we give to people? What is our strength? What are the expectations of people? I will think about all these aspects and come before you on December 12.”

For Munde, who served as Minister of Rural and Women, Child Development in the previous government, this election was the first test of her track record as an MLA — in 2014, there was a sympathy wave after her father’s sudden death. At the end of a highly emotional campaign, with each cousin railing against the other’s family, a video of Dhananjay Munde making an objectionable comment about Pankaja went viral on the final day.

Reacting on Pankaja’s Facebook post, Maharashtra BJP spokesperson Shirish Boralkar told that Munde continues to be with the saffron party and that she will continue her work to make the unit stronger in the state. “I have read the Facebook post of Pankaja Munde. This post nowhere conveys that Pankaja is not happy with the BJP. She attended the core committee meetings of the BJP. She is a daughter of Gopinath Munde who had contributed immensely in building the BJP in the state,” he told news agency PTI.

In the Maharashtra elections, the BJP emerged as the single-largest with 105 MLAs; the Sena won 56. However, the parties parted ways due to disagreement over power-sharing. Shiv Sena aligned with former rivals NCP and Congress to form a Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. The alliance government won floor test on Saturday comfortably with the support of 169 MLAs in the 288-member Assembly.

(With inputs from PTI)