Amid speculation over her leaving the BJP, former Maharashtra minister Pankaja Munde Tuesday said defection is not in her blood and that she was not leaving the party fold. Rumours were rife that Munde had quit the party after she removed ‘BJP’ from her Twitter bio.
“I am not leaving the party. Defection is not in my blood,” PTI quoted Munde as saying. In a post shared on Facebook on Sunday, Munde, daughter of BJP stalwart late Gopinath Munde, had declared that she wanted to “introspect” on the changed political equations in the state. Adding to the speculation, she later altered her Twitter bio to remove all mention of the BJP.
“Country first, party next, self last, that culture has been ingrained in me since childhood. According to the teachings of my father, I resumed work on just the third day after his death. I entered politics on the orders of my father and later after Munde saheb, stayed in politics on account of my responsibility towards the people. Today there is a need to decide on all our future course after considering the changes in politics and in our responsibilities and the changed context,” she wrote in her post on Facebook.
Pankaja unsuccessfully contested the recent Assembly election from the Parli constituency that she represented twice, losing to her estranged cousin Dhananjay Munde of the NCP, who is expected to win a ministerial berth in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government and who will in all likelihood be given charge of Beed district’s guardian ministership.
On Tuesday, Pankaja met senior BJP leaders Vinod Tawde, Ram Shinde and MLA Babanrao Lonikar at her residence in Malabar Hill in south Mumbai.
After her post went viral, senior Maharashtra leaders sought to quell rumours around her exiting the party. BJP’s Maharashtra chief Chandrakant Patil said, “BJP leaders were in touch with Pankaja. After her defeat in the Assembly elections, she was seriously introspecting. It does not mean she is going to leave the BJP.”
Patil had also denied Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s claim that several BJP leaders were in touch with the Sena, waiting to switch over. According to Patil, “The accidental government which has come to power in Maharashtra was spreading baseless news about BJP leaders. Just because Pankaja Munde has good family relations with Thackerays does not mean she will join the Shiv Sena.”