Gopinath Munde: BJP’s tallest leader in Maharashtra

mundeHe rose from the fringes of society to the peak of success. A promising leader who led the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra during difficult times,  and wielded a profound influence on the masses, has passed away at a time when the party, who he served for years, sought him the most ahead of the state assembly elections.
Just ten days after he assumed office as the Rural Development Minister of India, Gopinath Pandurang Munde, 64, died in a road accident on June 3 in New Delhi. He was on his way to the airport when his car was hit by another vehicle at about 6.20 am in the morning. Around ten minutes later, he was brought to a hospital in Delhi where he was declared brought dead. The post mortem report cited cardiac arrest due to shock and internal bleeding due to rupturing of the liver as the reasons.
Born in 1949 in Parali, Maharashtra, Munde was a leader with a mass appeal in the Maharashtra unit of the BJP and morphed into the tallest leader of the BJP in the state, which contributes a chunk to national GDP. The firebrand leader was credited with taking the right decisions at the right moment during the recently concluded general elections where the BJP-Shiv Sena combine won a massive 41 out of 48 seats. He had steered the party to success in Maharashtra by recruiting young, dynamic and influential leaders to the party, most of whom won the elections from their respective constituencies.
Munde was inducted into the Union Cabinet of India for the first time in his political career after the 2014 general elections and was headed to Mumbai for work when the fatal accident took place. He is survived by his wife and three daughters. Munde was the brother-in-law and a close aide of slain BJP leader Pramod Mahajan. Mahajan’s death on May 3, 2006 had dealt a serious blow to Munde because of the bond that the duo shared.
The audacious leader rose to fame in 1994 when he launched a yatra (tour) in Maharashtra to protest against the then Sharad Pawar government for collusion in corrupt and criminal activities. Following the agitation, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance came to power in the state in 1995 and then he took on the mantle of the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Just as there were people who loved and trusted him, there were people who questioned his way of functioning too. But there were few who could ignore him. For example, Munde had vehemently opposed Nitin Gadkari’s alleviation to the post of the president of the BJP in 2009 and the two hardly saw eye to eye. However, when the news of his death spread, Gadkari was one of the first leaders to rush to the hospital where he was brought dead. Sharad Pawar, a former agriculture minister and veteran politician from Maharashtra, is also said to have acknowledged, behind closed doors of course, that barring him, Munde was the only leader who knew Maharashtra so well.
At a time when BJP and Shiv Sena were locked in intense negotiations to reach a consensus on a chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra, Munde’s death has dealt a severe blow to the party’s political game plan in the state.

Tributes for Gopinath Munde

modi-mundeMunde’s untimely death, so soon after his being inducted into the Union cabinet, has shocked his party, but tributes poured in from across the political spectrum:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi: Extremely saddened & shocked by the demise of my friend & colleague Gopinath Munde ji. His demise is a major loss for the Nation & the Govt. Gopinath Munde ji was a true mass leader. Hailing from backward sections of society, he rose to great heights & tirelessly served people. My tributes to a dynamic leader whose premature demise leaves a void hard to fill. Condolences to Munde ji’s family. We stand by them in this hour of grief.
Digvijaya Singh, General Secretary of All India Congress Committee: Shocked to hear the sad demise of Gopinath Munde a personal friend and a great leader. My heartfelt condolences to the Family.

Former union minister Milind Deora: Absolutely shocked to hear about Mundeji’s tragic demise. Just last week on a flight, he was recounting our families’ friendship. RIP

Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj: I am shocked to know about sudden demise of my senior colleague Shri Gopinath Munde. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.

Congress Leader and MP Shashi Tharoor: Shocking news of demise of Gopinath Munde at his political peak. Sincere condolences to Munde family, BJP & his Government colleagues

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