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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Speculation abounds as Pankaja reports sick while Fadnavis embarks on four-day Marathwada tour

Pankaja Munde’s close aides said she doesn't want to be seen with Fadnavis and hence tries to avoid such situations although the duo can be seen together at party meetings.

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Pune |
Updated: October 3, 2021 8:44:13 am
Four months back when Devendra Fadnavis had visited Marathwada and undertook a tour of Beed, Pankaja Munde went to tour some other districts | PTI/file

Even as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Devendra Fadnavis and Pravin Darekar are touring flood-affected areas of Marathwada district, Pankaja Munde, the national secretary of the party, has expressed her inability to “take calls or meet in person” for the next few days on account of being unwell.

In a tweet, Pankaja said, “Unwell…tonsilitis and blisters in throat…advised strict rest for 2 to 4 days…can’t take calls or meet in person.”

Pankaja’s absence has once again given rise to speculation as to whether she is avoiding being seen with Fadnavis, with whom she has not shared a public platform other than party meetings since her defeat in assembly elections in 2019. While both leaders have restrained themselves from attacking each other publicly, insiders say Pankaja holds “Fadnavis camp” responsible for her defeat. The exclusion of her sister, Parliamentarian Preetam Munde, from the recent Union cabinet expansion has given Pankaja another reason to be upset with Fadnavis, they add.

Four months back, when Fadnavis undertook a tour of Beed from where Pankaja hails, she was touring some other districts. While BJP leaders said Munde and Fadnavis have met on some occasions, they have largely not been seen together publicly in the last two years.

When asked about Munde’s illness, BJP’s state spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said, “I have no knowledge whether she had informed the party about her illness. But she has already made it known to the world that she was not well, through her tweet. Anyway, Munde is not an employee of the party wherein she is required to seek permission.”

Fadnavis, the Opposition leader in state assembly, and Darekar, the Opposition leader in state council, will visit Beed on Monday even as Pankaja would remain unavailable until Tuesday.

Pankaja’s close aides said she doesn’t want to be seen with Fadnavis and hence tries to avoid him at public places, though they are seen together at party meetings. “Last time, she had cited an official reason to be away from Beed when Fadnavis had come to visit. This time, she has cited another genuine reason… Anyway, by staying away from Fadnavis, she has indirectly expressed her resentment with the way she and her family has been treated… Neither has she forgotten about her defeat nor has her anger subsided over non-inclusion of her sister in the Union cabinet,” said a close aide.

Meanwhile, Fadnavis said he was touring Marathwada to highlight the plight of farmers affected by the recent rain and floods. “Government aid is either not reaching them or is taking its own time to arrive…We want to highlight all that is going wrong in rain-hit Marathwada districts,” he said.

After meeting farmers in Parbhani, Fadnavis said, “The state government has made no effort to reach out to the farmers who have suffered 100 per cent crop loss. Even the aid that was promised last time has not reached them. The (state) government makes promises but doesn’t implement them. This time, since the loss is cent per cent, there is no need to hold panchnamas. The financial assistance should be announced without any panchnamas.”

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