BJP crisis over as Munde retracts, Shetty in, Chavan out

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New Delhi/Mumbai, Apr 22 (UNI) The crisis in the BJP following senior Maharashtra leader Gopinath Munde's offer to quit all party posts including General Secretaryship on Sunday blew over today when he withdrew his resignation after an assurance by the party that it will replace Mumbai unit Chief Madhu Chavan.

And the party leadership promptly acted on its assurance to Mr Munde, replacing Mr Chavan with former Mayor Gopal Shetty, a Mumbai MLA.

Mr Munde's retraction of his resignation followed high-level consultations with Leader of the Opposition L K Advani and party president Rajnath Singh.

Party State President Nitin Gadkari told UNI that Mr Shetty had emerged the consensus candidate to replace Mr Chavan a member of the Legislative Council.

Party sources claimed that Mr Munde had urged that either former president Prakash Mehta should allowed to continue or former MP Dr Kirit Somaiya, who had once headed the unit should be given the responsibility. He also forwarded the name of Raj Purohit for the post.

However, after the meeting between Mr Munde and party leaders at New Delhi today, it was agreed to name Mr Shetty as the new President.

Mr Gadkari told newspersons that the new chief for the party's Mumbai unit was chosen in consultation with Mr Munde and Mr Chavan.

Mr Munde was apparently unhappy over the appointment of Mr Chavan, party insiders said.

Mr Gadkari said Mr Munde is ''our leader'' and the party will fight assembly and Lok Sabha elections in the state under his leadership.

Earlier, Mr Munde, former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and the brother-in-law of late Pramod Mahajan, said he had withdrawn his resignation. He said he had some grievances which had been addressed by the party of which he had always been a dedicated worker.

He also scotched all rumours that he had plans to join any other party in the event the party leadership did not address his grievances. ''I have been in this party for the past 30 years and I at no point of time did ever think of joining any other party,'' he said.

An OBC leader, Mr Munde, earlier arrived here from Mumbai on summons from the party leadership and drove down to Mr Advani's residence where he held a one-on-one meeting with the former deputy Prime minister.

Later, he went to Mr Rajnath Singh's residence and clarified his position. At Mr Singh's residence, other party leaders from Maharashtra, including Mr Gadkari, were also present.

Since the party had already discussed the issue with Mr Gadkari and BJP leaders from Maharashtra, including Mr Ram Naik, who had arrived here yesterday, it did not take much time to resolve the matter. The meeting lasted about an hour.

In reply to a question, the party president admitted that it was the first time that there was a crisis in Maharashtra unit but it had been resolved amicably.

Sources said the party leadership had asked both Mr Gadkari and Mr Munde to work in tandem in the state.

UNI Team RP AS1954

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