"If Party Wants To Leave Me...": Pankaja Munde Goads BJP With Barbs

BJP leader Pankaja Munde was speaking at a rally in Beed to mark the birth anniversary of her father Gopinath Munde, a senior BJP leader who died in 2014.

Pankaja Munde declared that she would tour the state with a mashaal (torch).

Mumbai:

Disgruntled BJP leader Pankaja Munde today let loose a long rant against her party at a public rally and declared herself out of its core committee in Maharashtra but stopped short of quitting. The party could decide if it wanted to throw her out, said the former state minister, who has been upset since she lost her seat in the October state election.

"The loss of one election does not bother me. Circumstances are being created that I should quit. But I am not going to leave the party. However, if the party wants to 'leave' me, it can take a decision," she said in the presence of several top BJP leaders including state president Chandrakant Patil.

She was speaking at a rally in Beed to mark the birth anniversary of her father Gopinath Munde, a senior BJP leader who died in 2014.

"I am being labelled as 'ambitious' and someone who tried to pressure the party. Some are spreading the rumours that I want to be the Chief Minister. I never uttered any such thing. But is it wrong to be ambitious? Can't a woman lead the state," the former MLA demanded to know.

"I served as a minister for five years, but I am no longer a minister, not even a legislator, nor a corporator. From today, I am not even a part of the (BJP) Core Committee. They call me a rebel. Do you think (India's) Independence would have been possible without defying the authorities or revolting," she asked.

She declared that she would tour the state with a mashaal (torch). "I have no greed for power. I want to be released from the BJP core committee," she told reporters later, dismissing all talk of her rebellion.

Ms Munde, 40, has been organising the rally for the last five years but this year, the event has generated more interest because of speculation that she is in exit mode after her shock defeat in the October 21 polls. She lost a family stronghold, Parli, to her cousin Dhananjay Munde.

Today's rally also featured other leaders believed to be upset with the party, like Eknath Khadse and Prakash Mehta.

On Tuesday, Ms Munde skipped the core committee meeting in Mumbai called to discuss the resentment within the ranks.

Speculation that Ms Munde was ready to walk was fueled by her Facebook post that talked about the changed political scenario and the need for her to reassess her future. She even removed a reference to the BJP from her Twitter bio a day later.

Ms Munde had then said she would take "eight to ten days to communicate" with herself and would decide on her future plans before the 60th birth anniversary of her father.

Sources close to her claim she has still not recovered from the defeat and blames her own party for her loss.

In her speech, the former MLA referred to insinuations that she lost to her cousin and NCP leader Dhananjay Munde because some BJP leaders (read Devendra Fadnavis) didn't want her to win the seat.

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