Maharashtra: Shai Venkatraman Gopinath Munde of the BJP is not contesting elections, but you would not know it seeing him campaign. The BJP general secretary has ensured a hectic election schedule for himself, having managed to get tickets for three of his clan, and the Munde parivar is out in full force.
All of Munde's family members who have got a ticket are campaigning together. In Munde's caravan, you can find his daughter Pankaja Munde Pallave, contesting elections for the first time from Parli, niece Poonam Mahajan Rao, who is the daughter of the late Pramod Mahajan, and is the BJP candidate from Ghatkopar and Madhusudan Kendre, Munde's brother's son-in-law, who is contesting from Parbhani.
Many in the state BJP are unhappy, but Munde himself is unapologetic. NDTV caught up with the senior BJP leader on the campaign trail. "Pramod Mahajan is not alive now. If Poonam had got the ticket while he was alive, it would have been different", says Munde. But she is his niece. "So what?" asks Munde. "Poonam did not get the Rajya Sabha or Lok Sabha ticket. She only managed it now after so long." The rest he says are distant relatives. "They are my brother's relatives and have been in politics for a long time."
About Pankaja, Munde says: "She has worked in my constituency for a long time. And since I am a Rajya Sabha member now, she has got my seat." Insiders say this is actually a great example of proxy parivar politics. Munde is a Rajya Sabha member and so is not contesting. By giving his daughter a ticket, he is simply keeping his options open so that on the off-chance that the Sena-BJP alliance wins in Maharashtra, he can replace Pankaja and stake claim to the deputy chief minister's post.