Voices in the BJP are emerging to consider elevating Pankaja Munde-Palve to the Narendra Modi government. Pankaja, a member of the state assembly from Parli in Beed district of Marathwada region, is being considered the most suitable candidate to carry forward the political legacy of her father Gopinath Munde.
Munde supporters in Maharashtra have aired demands of fielding Pankaja in the Lok Sabha by-elections, to be held along with assembly elections in October.
Senior BJP leaders in Maharashtra said, “Pankaja has the ability to carry ahead the political legacy of Munde. She is an ideal candidate for Lok Sabha elections. She can gradually emerge as leader of Marathwada region and represent Maharashtra at the centre.”
A formal decision would be taken after consultations with the family next month. A senior BJP leader said, “At the moment we are still mourning the demise of Munde. All decisions related to Lok Sabha by-elections or state elections will be after June 15.” Munde died in a car crash earlier this week.
Core committee members of BJP in Maharashtra indicated that a decision to induct Pankaja into the central government will be the discretion of prime minister Modi.
During his Lok Sabha campaign, Munde had indicated that “if the situation so warranted that I have to lead Maharashtra, I can always swap the seat with Pankaja.” It meant he would ask his daughter to vacate Parli assembly seat for him and make her contest Beed Lok Sabha seat, which he won.
In BJP it is no secret that Modi was considering Munde as the next chief minister of Maharashtra. He had indicated to state leaders that Munde should choose whether he wants to lead Maharashtra assembly elections or be a cabinet minister at the Centre.
Senior BJP leaders point out, “Munde was keen to take the role of cabinet minister.” Modi, sources revealed, was categorical that it would be difficult for Munde to strike a balance between the state campaign and the duties the cabinet demands. But all state leaders, including BJP state president Devendra Fadnavis, opposition leader in the assembly Eknath Khadse, senior leader Pandurang Phundkar felt Munde should be cabinet minister. Sources said, “It was Fadnavis who apprised the sentiment of state leaders about Munde’s induction in cabinet.”