Rural Development Minister Gopinath Munde, the OBC face of the BJP in Maharashtra, died of injuries in a road accident early Tuesday morning in the heart of New Delhi, plunging his party and state into grief and gloom.
Munde, 64, was on his way to the Delhi airport when the Maruti SX4 he was travelling in was rammed by a speeding Indica car at the Aurobindo Marg-Tughlak Road intersection at 6.20 am, police said.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, among the first to reach the AIIMS Trauma Centre where Munde was taken by his personal assistant and driver, said death was caused due to severe injuries to the cervical spine and liver.
“The fracture of his cervical spine C1 and C2 cut off blood supply to the brain stem. This led to failure of his respiratory and cardiac centres. This was caused by the impact between the two cars. There were also two to three tears in the liver which led to collection of blood in his abdomen,” Harsh Vardhan told reporters.
The driver of the Indica, Gurvinder Singh, 40, who called the police control room to say his car had been hit by a vehicle with a red beacon, was arrested and booked. He was granted bail later in the day by a local court.
“We have registered a case of rash and negligent driving resulting in death. We have arrested the accused and are investigating the matter,” Mukesh Meena, Joint Commissioner of Police, New Delhi, said.
Union minister Nitin Gadkari, who also reached the hospital, announced the death of Munde to reporters. In an official statement, a spokesperson for AIIMS said when Munde was brought to the hospital “there was no spontaneous breathing, no blood pressure, no pulse, bilateral pupils were dilated and fixed and no cardiac activity was present… immediately theCPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) was started and continued for the next 50 minutes…. he could not be revived and was declared dead at 7.20 am.”
A panel of doctors conducted the post-mortem. No external injury, other than an abrasion on the nose, was visible. The post-mortem report, expected in a day or two, will reveal the extent of internal injures.
Ministers, leaders, officials and partymen gathered at the hospital and waited for Munde’s family who flew in from Mumbai to receive the body. At 12.40 pm, an Army truck carrying the body moved out of the hospital and headed for the BJP headquarters on Ashoka Road where leaders, cutting across party lines, had assembled to pay tribute. Those who turned up included Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
In a tweet soon after Munde’s death, Modi called him a “friend” and a “true mass leader”. “My tributes to a dynamic leader whose premature demise leaves a continued…