With Pankaja, who is on a statewide 'Sangharsh Yatra', sending out signals that she would focus on affairs in Maharashtra, there is speculation that her sister Pritam Munde could be the BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Beed. If that happens, the BJP may not have much difficulty retaining the seat, since Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has publicly declared that his party won't field any candidate if any family member of the Munde family were to contest the bypoll.
Pritam Munde, who is based in Nashik, has already started visiting Parli, Beed and other areas of the constituency. NCP's Ramesh Adaskar, who contested against Munde during the earlier Lok Sabha poll, recently joined the BJP. NCP minister Jaidatt Kshirsagar may not be inclined to fight the Lok Sabha bypoll and would prefer to retain his Assembly seat, NCP sources said.
Pankaja Munde has embarked on a 'yatra' in poll-bound Maharashtra, similar to another such exercise in 1995 by her late father Gopinath Munde, which had helped the BJP-Sena alliance come to power in Maharashtra for the first time.
The 14-day, 3,000 km 'yatra' which began from August 27 is also seen as the BJP's bid to project Pankaja Munde as the party's Other Backward Caste (OBC) face after Munde, who died in a car accident in Delhi in June this year. Pankaja Munde is an MLA from the Munde family's turf of Parli in Beed.
On June 19, merely weeks after her father Gopinath Munde's death, Pankaja Munde was inducted into the core group of leaders in the BJP's Maharashtra state unit, in place of her father, indicating that the party was carving out a larger role for her.
Gopinath Munde had undertaken his 1995 'yatra' campaign against Sharad Pawar over the controversial Enron project and he became Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra in the government headed by the Shiv Sena's Manohar Joshi.