Union Minister for Surface Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari may have invited the anger from the mob en route to the funeral of Gopinath Munde, who pelted stones on his car at Latur, but the duo appeared to have renewed their ties to begin a new innings in Delhi politics.
“During the Cabinet formation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicated that he was considering whether he should spare Gopinath Munde for leading the Assembly campaign in Maharashtra or induct him in the Union Cabinet. I made it clear that if Munde is not taken in the Cabinet it would send a wrong message in Maharashtra. It would be misunderstood as Gadkari gets a Cabinet berth and Munde is left out,” Gadkari told The Indian Express.
He said he further told Modi, “I will join the Cabinet only if you induct Munde.”
The former BJP president said Munde was always a senior leader to him both in organisation and experience. “When Munde became the state BJP president, I was heading the BJP Yuva Morcha in Nagpur. When our government was voted to power (1995-99), Munde was deputy chief minister and home minister, I was minister for PWD.”
“After I became the BJP president, after expressing my reverence to L K Advani, I bowed to Munde to seek his blessings,” Gadkari said, adding that he had always considered Munde as his senior in the party.
Talking to the The Indian Express, an aide of Munde said, “There was no denying the factor that two differed on several issues related to policy or electoral decision making. Often the disputes veered around selection of candidates during elections or organisational responsibilities.”
“But ever since the formation of the Modi government, they appeared together on several occasions. Munde even took the initiative to visit Gadkari’s home personally. And in a lighter vein stated that he was willing to accept the leadership of Gadkari,” he said.
In reply, Gadkari said, “I cannot become your leader.”
In the absence of Munde, the larger question that is being asked in the Maharashtra unit is will Gadkari play a more significant role in the state?
According to a senior party functionary in Delhi, “Earlier, central leadership always would rely on both Munde and Gadkari to elicit views on critical matters. Now, automatically Gadkari becomes a voice on Maharashtra in Delhi. But the central leadership is not going to be totally guided by Gadkari’s recommendations when it comes to issues related to candidates or poll responsibilities during the Maharashtra Assembly elections.”
In the changed scenario, Modi will certainly promote able leadership in Maharashtra and also have in place a parallel set-up to monitor and provide the feedback.
Gadkari gets charge of munde ministries
Union minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari was Wednesday given additional charge of the ministries of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation, previously held by Gopinath Munde.
A Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said, “The President of India, as advised by the PM, has directed that Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping, shall be given additional charge of the Ministries of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water & Sanitation.”