Nitin Gadkari, Pankaja Munde ‘missing’ both leaders skip BJP state executive, spark controversy

Mumbai: The BJP state executive, which held its deliberations the entire day, was caught in an unseemly controversy  with both Nitin Gadkari and Pankaja Munde skipping the meeting. Both leaders are perceived to be part of the ‘anti Devendra Fadnavis camp).

The absence of the two leaders attracted attention even more, as the executive on Sunday reiterated its resolve to elect Fadnavis as the next Chief Minister.

Fadanvis had not waited for the executive and already announced that he would be the next chief minister; it is understood that this unilateral announcement had not gone down well with the rival camp, which made it a point to voice its unhappiness by remaining absent in this key meeting.

It is an open secret that Gadkari was one of the frontrunners for the chief minister’s post after BJP emerged as the single largest party in 2014. But he and loyalist Sudhir Mungantiwar were denied an opportunity to helm the state and Fadnavis was tasked with the responsibility instead.

Pankaja, who is the daughter of the late BJP leader Gopinath Munde also had pretensions about being in the race for the CM’s post, but was similarly kept out of the loop.

Having consolidated her hold over the Bahujan samaj since her father’s demise, in the last 5 years she has not lost any chance to express her angst over the lost opportunity.

It had been announced that Mungantiwar and Munde will move the political resolution at the executive. However, by a curious coincidence, all the three leaders --

Gadkari, Mungantiwar and Munde -- skipped the first session of the executive which included the inauguration ceremony and address by the party's National Executive President J P Nadda.

The TV channels, quick on the uptake, lapped up the news of the perceived ‘boycott’ by the Gadkari-Munde camp. CM Fadnavis, who was believed to be upset, reportedly asked newly appointed State party chief Chandrakant Patil to douse the row. After this, Patil is learnt to have spoken with all the three leaders and ensured that Mungantiwar reached the venue.

Nonetheless, the incident put the BJP leadership on the defensive and Patil was forced to clarify matters on the stage while blaming the media for creating an unsavoury controversy.

"The electronic media is highlighting the absence of Mungantiwar but he was suffering from very high fever. Actually, he shouldn't have come but did so to table the political resolution,’’ Patil explained.

Taking a cue, TV channels began panning their cameras on Mungantiwar at the venue.

Pankaja, it is stated, was absent because she is out of the country to complete the process of admission of her son with the prior permission of the party.

‘‘Gadkari ji had some prior engagements. He said that this time he won’t be able to come; in any case, party's National Executive President Jagat Prakash Nadda is present," Patil explained when the post-lunch session started.