Heavy security was deployed as over 3,000 people gathered at the Purna building in Worli, the residence of Union Rural Development Minister Gopinath Munde where his mortal remains were brought in an ambulance around 7.30 pm on Tuesday. The senior BJP leader died in a road accident in Delhi in the morning.
Among those present were BJP workers, supporters, senior government officials, members of the film industry and politicians cutting across party lines. Naval officers who carried Munde’s mortal remains in a glass coffin found it difficult to approach the platform erected to place the coffin as the crowd swelled.
First to step out of the ambulance was Munde’s daughter Pankaja, followed by her mother Pradnya. Munde’s body was first taken to the porch of the building for the family to perform rituals. Munde received an official salute and the police band played as his body was brought in.
While many people were seen weeping in the crowd, cries of “Munde sahab amar rahein (long live Munde)” got louder as the grieving supporters bid adieu to their leader. It started raining just after Munde’s body was mounted on the platform.
Those who paid their respects to the deceased OBC leader included Governor K Sankaranarayanan, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and his wife Rashmi, Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria, social activist and Aam Aadmi Party leader Medha Patkar and Minister for Medical Education Jitendra Awhad.
Pradnya, who was inconsolable, was supported by BJP MP and Munde’s niece Poonam Mahajan, Thackeray and Rashmi. Munde’s daughters, however, fought tears and put up a brave face.
The building premises were given a security cover by 50 police officers, 500 constables and five platoons of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF).
Munde lived on the 11th and 12th floor of the Purna building. He is survived by his wife and three daughters — Pratima, Pankaja and Yashasvi. Both his elder daughters had rushed to Delhi soon after receiving the news of his accident.
Soon after the news of Munde’s death broke, preparations for his funeral began at the building.
While party workers were engaged in erecting a platform where Munde’s body would be placed, the arrangements were overseen by Poonam and her brother Rahul Mahajan. Condolence banners and posters were put up on Worli’s Dr Annie Besant Road and the Pochkanwala Road that leads to the BJP leader’s home.
“By the time I switched on television this morning, the news of his death had already started flashing on the screens,” said Rajesh Sharma, former deputy mayor and chief coordinator, party and governance, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee. Describing Munde’s demise, just eight days after he was sworn in as a Union minister, as “sudden and shocking,” he added: “Congratulatory bouquets are still lying in his home. It is very sad and unfortunate.”
Film director Madhur Bhandarkar and actors Riteish Deshmukh, Manoj Tiwari and Raju Shrivastav also paid respects to Munde.
Munde’s mortal remains were placed in the building for 45 minutes. Hundreds of his followers followed the ambulance carrying his body, as it left for the BJP’s Nariman Point office around 8:15 pm.