Union Minister for Rural Development Gopinath Munde, who passed away in a tragic road accident on Tuesday morning, battled all odds to rise to great heights in state and national politics. A firebrand leader with good oratory, Munde had admirers cutting across party lines.
As the news of his untimely demise poured in, his friends and political adversaries went into shock and disbelief. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Extremely saddened & shocked by the demise of my friend & colleague Gopinath Munde ji. His demise is a major loss for the nation and the government.” Modi added, “Munde ji was a true mass leader. Hailing from a backward section of society, he rose to great heights and tirelessly served people. My tributes to a dynamic leader whose premature demise leaves a void hard to fill. Condolences to his family. We stand by them in this hour of grief.”
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said in another tweet, “I’m shocked to hear the sad demise of Gopinath Munde, who was a personal friend and a great leader. My heartfelt condolences to the family.” Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan termed Munde’s death as “one of the saddest day for state’s political fraternity.”
In his condolence message, Chavan said, “It is heart wrenching that such a tragedy must unfold within days of him taking over as a Union Minister. He was one of the few leaders who rose above politics to strive for people. He did immense for the state in his capacity as legislator, deputy chief minister, and member of the parliament.” Chavan further said, “Munde had to brave several challenges and struggles to make a place for himself in politics and social work. His extremely polite nature was a trait that everyone must imbibe. His death is a loss to the entire state.”
Former Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde also expressed shock when he said, “This is the third consecutive loss for Maharashtra after the untimely deaths of Vilasrao (former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh), and Balasaheb (Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray). Mundeji had excellent national and state reach. He will always be remembered for his excellent oratory and man management skills. May his soul rest in peace.”
State BJP chief Devendra Fadanvis tweeted, “Unbelievable, shocking, can’t express the sudden vacuum felt. Munde was not just a mass leader but a fatherly figure in BJP. There can’t be another Gopinath Munde.”