MUMBAI: The RSS has asked the Maharashtra BJP to promote late leader Gopinath Munde’s daughter Pankaja Palve, in a bid to keep its OBC base intact after his death.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh believes that Pankaja can influence the OBC, the BJP’s strong vote bank in the state as she was the party’s lone woman leader from the community.
The RSS’ recommendation is based on one of its senior leaders’ assessment of the state’s political situation.
His report states that Sharad Pawar-led NCP will try to break the BJP’s OBC base.
“Pawar has announced that the NCP will not field candidate in Beed by-poll, if anyone from the Munde family contests. It is a trap. Pawar is trying to gain undeserved sympathy. The BJP should not fall prey to it,” the report stated.
The OBC comprises around 55 per cent of the state’s population and the majority are traditional BJP voters. The party had projected Munde, a Vanjari, in the 1970s, according to its plan to get connected with the three major OBC castes - Mali (gardener), Dhangar (shepherd) and Vanjari.
Legislator Prakash Shendge and a “friend” Mahadev Jankar have managed to keep the Dhangars with the BJP.
However,Munde’s death has created a void among its Vanjari sympathisers and the RSS believes that Pankaja can fill this void.
Apart from her caste, her gender also seems to be working in Pankaja’s favour. The RSS report stated that no other party in the state, except the NCP, has an influential woman leader. However, NCP’s Supriya Sule is more interested in national politics which means Pankaja has the scope to establish herself in the state.
The report also elaborates on the effects of Pankaja’s promotion over the Shiv Sena, the BJP’s oldest ally.
“It was the Shiv Sena which had put more hoardings than the BJP, paying tribute to Munde. In case the alliance is broken, the Shiv Sena will be caught in a tricky situation, opposing Pankaja,” it stated.
State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis has given Pankaja a place in the party’s core committee, which takes decisions on political matters. He has announced that Pankaja will play a big role in the party.
A first time legislator, Pankaja is prepared for any assignment.
“Baba (Munde) did not allow me to take things easy. He made me to work like an ordinary worker of the party and to understand and analyse things better. It will be a big challenge to take his work forward,” she said.