M A I N   N E W S

Munde set to resign as MLA
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 21
Dissident BJP leader Gopinath Munde, who resigned from all party posts yesterday, is all set to resign as party MLA in the state legislature on Thursday, according to sources close to him.

Munde is expected to hit out at the BJP leadership for not allowing him to speak in the House, sources said.

Today, Munde refused to obey a summon by the party’s leadership to discuss his conduct in the national Capital.

Munde told reporters that he had requested Eknath Khadse and Pandurang Phundkar, who head the BJP legislative party in the Maharashtra Assembly and the legislative council, respectively, to represent him in the Capital. “I have full faith in their leadership and they will go on my behalf,” Munde told reporters. Both Khadse and Phundkar are seen as being close to Maharashtra BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, who has also been summoned to Delhi.

Observers say, Munde has given up all hopes of a rapprochement and is upping the ante in a make- or-break effort to improve his standing in the state unit of the BJP.

Munde also told reporters that senior BJP leaders, including party president Rajnath Singh, were in touch with him. However, he did not say what transpired during the discussions.

Having arrived in Mumbai earlier this morning from his native Aurangabad district, Munde said he was not opposed to the appointment of any one person to a party post. “For the past year and a half, I have noticed that the party has stopped functioning democratically,” Munde said. Eversince the killing of his brother-in-law Pramod Mahajan two years ago, Munde’s stock in the BJP has been on the decline.

Munde’s outburst against the BJP leadership had its immediate repercussions with a number of elected representatives of the BJP in local government bodies tendering their resignations. Sixteen councillors of the BJP in the Pune Municipal Corporation said they were quitting the party to express solidarity with Munde. Three BJP MLAs from Mumbai were among the prominent BJP leaders who met with Munde shortly after he arrived in the city. MLAs Gopal Shetty, Girish Mahajan and Sardar Tara Singh and MLC Asha Patel were among those who called on Munde.

Supporters of Munde claimed that as many as 4000 BJP workers had resigned from their posts to express solidarity with him.

In a show of strength, Munde’s supporters assembled to welcome him to the city in large numbers.

Meanwhile, both houses of the Maharashtra Assembly, which is in session, were thrown into turmoil over the resignation of Munde from various party posts.

With legislators cutting across party lines demanding details from the Speaker, the lower House was adjourned twice.

Incidentally, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh of the Congress came out in defence of Munde. Known to be close to the BJP leader, Deshmukh said legislators should wait for Munde to make a statement in the House.

Later Munde, who attended the Assembly, thanked the Chief Minister for his concern but said his resignation from party posts was not related to the proceedings in the Assembly at all.

PTI adds: Meanwhile, Munde’s representative tonight had a meeting with party chief Rajnath Singh in New Delhi in an attempt to get over the crisis in the party’s state unit. Emerging from the meeting, Eknath Khadse, deputed by Munde to meet the party’s central leadership to discuss the issue, told reporters that “We explained our problems to Rajnath Singh.”

He said “Munde will meet him (Rajnath Singh) tomorrow morning. The issue will be resolved amicably.”



Meets Bal Thackeray

Mumbai, April 21
Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde tonight met Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray at his residence here. Munde met Thackeray and requested him to mediate in the matter, sources said.

Earlier in the day, Munde also met NCP leader and Maharashtra minister Chhagan Bhujbal. — PTI



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