Absence of 'Godfather' leads to Gadkari-Munde spat

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Mumbai, Apr 23 (UNI) The 'absence' of Pramod Mahajan, the 'godfather' of senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde, appears to be the main reason behind the crisis that erupted recently in the Maharashta BJP, with state party president Nitin Gadkari virtually challenging Munde's supermacy.

According to political observers, since 1985 Munde, under the leadership of his brother-in-law the late Mahajan, ran the state unit with an iron hand.

Mahajan had always maintained his national-level ambition, while Munde confined himself to the state politics.

During the span of two decades, there were several state unit presidents other than Munde himself, but all of them meekly accepted the 'diktats' of Mahajan and Munde.

There were a few incidents of protest from some of them, including former MP Suryabhan Wahadane Patil and former minister Anna Dange, but the dissidents had to leave the party due to the 'immense clout' the two enjoyed.

Mahajan's iron gip over the state weakened after the NDA's defeat in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP high command, led by Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L K Advani, preferred Nitin Gadkari to head the state unit in December 2004 much against the wishes of Mahajan.

But after his death, trouble brewed for Munde, who was following the footsteps of his astute brother-in-law.

Sources said Gadkari was never the 'yes man' president who would accept every decision of Munde. He had his own vision, ideas and clout in the Vidarbha region.

Munde, who ran the state unit until Mahajan's death, soon found himself pushed to a corner in his absence. When Mahajan was alive, the two did not allow anybody to grow, but after his death, people like Vinod Tawade were also seen challenging Munde.

Tawade won not only the candidature in the Legilsative Council biennial elections, but also secured more votes than Pandurang Phundkar, fuelling Munde's anger.

For a long time, the BJP appointed the secretary-in-charge of Maharashtra of Mr Mahajan's choice. He enjoyed so much clout in the party high command that he even appointed himself as the in-charge of the state.

Munde, who nursed the ambition of being appointed as the secretary-in-charge of Maharashtra for long, did not succeed in his endeavour as his efforts were not approved by the high command. It instead appointed Kaptansingh Solanki.

Since then, Munde developed a grudge against the central leadership, as most of the 'Mahajan detractors' who could not go against him when he was alive, started targetting him in Mahajan's absence.

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