Munde hardens stance, spurns invite to Delhi

April 21st, 2008 - 10:54 pm ICT by admin  

Mumbai, April 21 (IANS) Hardening his stance, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Gopinath Munde Monday spurned an invitation from party president Rajnath Singh to visit New Delhi and sort out contentious issues. Simultaneously, Munde - who Sunday declared his intention to resign from all party posts he holds - held discussions with several important state political leaders, cutting across party lines.

The leadership of other parties - keen to cash in on the crisis within the BJP - invited Munde for “tea and talks” and the latter obliged.

Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders like Chhagan Bhujbal, Madhukar Pichhad and Vijaysingh Mohite-Patil had tea with Munde. Both sides have chosen to keep the high point of the tea party a matter of speculation, at least for the present.

Munde created a flutter by attending the ongoing session of the Maharashtra Legislature at Nariman Point in south Mumbai and was virtually mobbed by legislators from various parties.

Monday, the influential other backward castes (OBC) leader and brother-in-law of slain BJP leader, Pramod Mahajan, clarified that he has not yet submitted his resignation to the party chief. However, he would be doing so Thursday, a day before the end of the Budget Session of the State Assembly, of which he is a member.

Even state BJP leaders made frantic efforts to convince Munde to change his decision but he remained adamant over the issue, according to party sources.

Former union minister of state Jaywantiben Mehta, accompanied by another Mumbai leader Sardar Tara Singh, met Munde briefly.

State BJP president Nitin Gadkari, meanwhile, dismissed Munde’s allegations about lack of internal democracy in the party. He said he would discuss the matter with Munde and dispel any misgivings on the latter’s part.

Munde had said Sunday evening that he was pained since the party did not function in a democratic manner.

Meanwhile, BJP chief Rajnath Singh claimed that Munde had not declined his invitation to meet him, but would, in fact, visit him anytime. Singh also held a meeting with Gadkari and former union minister Ram Naik over the issue Monday evening in Delhi.

Munde’s resignation also cropped up in the Legislature sessions this afternoon when members from both houses sought clarifications form the presiding officers over the issue.

Raising the issue in the Assembly, NCP member and former minister Nawab Malik quoted reports that Munde would not be allowed to speak in the House. He said that it cast aspersions on the Speaker, necessitating a clarification.

A lengthy debate followed, during which the House was adjourned twice as the Speaker wanted to get details from various group leaders.

Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh intervened and suggested that Munde be permitted to clear the confusion on the issue.

Indirectly backing Munde, Deshmukh said all were curious to know about the matter from the BJP leader who is an important OBC leader. “I am equally concerned since we both hail from Marathwada region,” Deshmukh said.

Reaching the House, Munde expressed his gratitude to Deshmukh for his concern and said that his resignation was a party matter and not related to the House at all. He assured that he would speak on it at an appropriate time.

The Chairman of the Legislative Council (Upper House) disallowed an adjournment motion on the issue by NCP leader Gurunath Kulkarni.

Meanwhile, some BJP corporators in the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai also threatened to resign if Munde left the party.

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