Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray open to welcome Gopinath Munde

Written by: Biswajeet Panda
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Bal Thackeray
Mumbai, Jun 22: It seems like Gopinath Munde is being pursued in a manner akin to a Roman princess, by all political parties who wish to strengthen their base in Maharastra. After reports of Congress' willingness to offer him a Union Cabinet berth, there are now open invitations from Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray to the sulking BJP leader to join his political outfit.

It can be recalled that Gopinath Munde, a very prominent BJP leader in Maharastra, is sulking over the treatment being meted out to him by senior leaders of his party. There are reports that after being snubbed by BJP President Nitin Gadkari, Munde is now mulling his options of leaving the party and joining the Congress.

However, with Bal Thackeray whose party Shiv-Sena is in a coalition with the BJP opening his door for the beleaguered leader, Munde might soon become a political hot-property.

Speaking to reporters at his residence Matoshree in suburban Bandra, Thackeray said, "Munde's leaving the BJP is not going to have any effect on the alliance," and asked, "How come Munde realised so late that he was being humiliated within BJP? Anyway, this is a matter of that party and I don't have a right to interfere in their affairs."

Refusing to talk to either L K Advani and Nitin Gadkari on the Munde issue, Thackeray said, "Whose need? At least, I don't have any need to speak on the issue."

The Shiv Sena patriarch, also sounded optimistic about the survival of its alliance with the BJP, irrespective of Munde's decision to stay or not and said, "When Munde had differences with party leadership in the past, I had stopped him (from leaving BJP) but not now. Now I won't stop him. "I can show one the way if one so desires. If Munde wants to consult me, the doors of Matoshree are always open for him."

Thackeray also made it clear about the defaulting Sena leaders, and said, "Bhujbal left because he was not made Opposition leader. However, Narayan Rane (now senior state Congress leader) did not leave. He was removed."

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