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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Devendra Fadnavis skips flood-hit Beed district

Sources in Fadnavis’s office told indianexpress.com, “The districts of Beed, Aurangabad and Jalna were not included in the original tour plan.”

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
October 4, 2021 4:04:32 pm
Fadnavis on Monday toured different parts of Latur district | Twitter/@Dev_Fadnavis

Maharashtra opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis will skip Beed district during his ongoing tour to flood-hit Marathwada region in the state.

Sources in Fadnavis’s office told indianexpress.com, “The districts of Beed, Aurangabad and Jalna were not included in the original tour plan.”

The statement came in the backdrop of speculations in certain quarters that Fadnavis’s strained relationship with BJP national secretary Pankaja Munde might have led to Beed’s omission from the itinerary. Pankaja Munde hails from the Beed district of the Marathwada region.

All the eight Marathwada districts – Beed, Latur, Osmanabad, Jalna, Hingoli, Parbhani, Aurangabad and Nanded – were recently hit by Cyclone Gulab.

Last week, Pankaja Munde had taken to Twitter to announce that she would not be available during the former CM’s Marathwada tour.

She had tweeted, “Unwell.. tonsillitis n blisters in my throat adviced strick (sic) voice rest for 2 to 4 days… can’t take calls or meet in person..” Notably, Pankaja Munde’s tweet came around the time Fadnavis announced his Marathwada tour.

A close aide of Pankaja Munde said, “Whatever had to be said has been expressed by Pankaja Munde through her tweet. That she is unwell is a fact.” However, he added: “As Munde supporters, we are not very pleased with the manner in which two-time MP Pritam Munde was denied a cabinet berth in the Narendra Modi-led government.”

Both Fadnavis and Pankaja Munde, however, have refrained from personally commenting on the matter.

An officer in the Opposition leader’s office said: “Where is the question of differences between Fadnavis and Pankaja Munde or any politics in this issue. When we planned the tour, we had not included Beed, Jalna and Aurangabad districts in it.”

Fadnavis toured Nanded district on Sunday. He interacted with flood-affected farmers there and later travelled to Latur.

Fadnavis told media persons on Monday, “Today, I will travel to parts of Latur district and then proceed to Osmanabad to assess the situation and interact with flood-hit farmers there.”

Notwithstanding the explanation from the Fadnavis camp, the differences between him and Pankaja Munde have cast a shadow on the tour. The differences between Fadnavis and Pankaja Munde go back to the 2019 assembly polls. Pankaja Munde was defeated in the Parli assembly seat by her estranged cousin and NCP minister Dhananjay Munde. It was said then that Pankaja Munde had complained to her close aides about not getting adequate support from the state party unit.

The non-inclusion of Pritam Munde Khade, who is Pankaja Munde’s younger sister, in the Union cabinet during the recent rejig might have further antagonised the Munde sisters.

Instead of Pritam Munde Khade, BJP chose Bhagwat Karad from Aurangabad in Marathwada as the Union minister of state for finance. Munde sisters, reportedly, saw this as a plot to undermine their political leadership in the region.

Munde supporters protested against the decision in public, following which the central party leadership asked Pankaja Munde to diffuse the protests without delay.

Another bone of contention between Pankaja Munde and the state BJP leadership was the former’s purported wish to become the Opposition leader in the legislative council after her defeat in the 2019 assembly polls. She was expecting the party to elect her to the council. However, the state BJP unit made Praveen Darekar the Opposition leader in the legislative council.

A senior BJP functionary said requesting anonymity, “In-house bickering is not new in any party. Pankaja Munde was rewarded with the post of the party national secretary for her contribution. So, where is the question of the party side-lining her! But one cannot vest all powers in a single person. The BJP has to accommodate several able workers who have served the organisation for many decades. Karad was made the MoS in the Modi government for his immense contribution to the party organisation in Marathwada region.

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