The upcoming Assembly polls and the bypoll for Beed LS seat may see late Gopinath Munde’s two daughters in the fray. While Parli MLA Pankaja Munde Palwe, eldest of the senior leader’s three daughters, is likely to contest the state polls, his second daughter Pritam Khade, a doctor, is likely to contest the Beed byelection.
The bypoll was necessitated following Munde’s death in a road accident in Delhi in June this year. He was the Union minister for rural development in the NDA government.
Almost all senior BJP leaders, including Eknath Khadse, Devendra Fadnavis, Vinod Tawde and Sudhir Mungantiwar, have indicated that the party has no objection to fielding a member of Munde’s family from Beed and that have left it to the Munde sisters and their mother to decide who among them should contest.
The youngest daughter, Yashashree, is not eligible to contest because of her age. The minimum age for a candidate contesting an Assembly or Lok Sabha election should be 25.
Pankaja (35) was initiated into politics by her father in 2009 when she contested from the Parli Assembly seat. After Munde’s death, according to sources, senior leaders of the party had requested Modi to induct Pankaja into his cabinet, indicating she could contest the Lok Sabha bypoll from Beed. However, Panjaka now appears more keen in state politics.
State BJP leaders feel the discretion of selecting candidates for cabinet berths is best left to the PM. And Modi has not conveyed to the party his decision till date. “Supporters of Pankaja feel she should not settle for anything less than a cabinet berth,” said a senior MLA.
Talking to The Indian Express, another MLA close to the Mundes said, “Denying a cabinet berth to Pankaja due to inexperience would be wrong. At least, Pankaja is a one-term MLA in the state. But Smriti Irani (HRD minister) had no experience of electoral politics. She was inducted into the cabinet through Rajya Sabha.”