CHENNAI: Expressing deep grief over the demise of Union Minister Gopinath Pandurang Munde in a road accident, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday said, “His passing away is an irreparable loss to the people of Maharashtra and the cadre of the BJP”.
In a statement, the Chief Minister said, “In his demise, the people of India, especially the people of Maharashtra have lost a great parliamentarian, a great humanist, a true patriot and a person who untiringly served the society.”
Recalling the various positions held by Munde in public life, including as the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra and as the Leader of the Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly, Jayalalithaa conveyed her deepest condolences to the late leader’s family. “May the Almighty give them the strength to withstand and overcome this sorrow,” she added.
Meanwhile, Gopinath Munde’s untimely demise attracted condolence messages from only the BJP’s NDA allies in Tamil Nadu.
MDMK chief Vaiko, PMK founder S Ramadoss and DMDK chief Vijayakant issued statements recalling Munde’s contributions. They expressed shock and grief over his death.
“This is an irreparable loss to Indian public life and the BJP. He worked from the bottom rung as a student leader and rose step by step to become one of the foremost leaders of Maharashtra,” said Vaiko.
Ramadoss noted that Munde had worked for the welfare of the farming community and OBCs. “Gopinath Munde was among the decent politicians of this country. Even as he took charge as Union Minister, it was said that he had chances of taking over as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra in a few months,” said Ramadoss.
Vijayakant said Munde had risen to become a peoples’ leader through hard work.
A man of simplicity
Union Minister Gopinath Munde came across as a man of great simplicity to party functionaries of the Tamil Nadu unit of the BJP during an interaction more than a decade ago.
Recalling the incident, a senior activist said the city had played host to the BJP’s national council meet in 2000. The conclave was attended by senior leaders of the party from across the country, including the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and his deputy and Union home minister L K Advani. Munde, who was the then deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, also participated. “On one occasion, he came to me and said that he wanted a vehicle urgently to go somewhere,” the activist said. “I told him that no vehicle was immediately available.”
Just then, a Maruti van meant for local party functionaries drove into the hotel. “It did not have AC,” the activist said. Munde wanted to know whether the van was available. “I told Munde that it was available, but that it did not have AC.” He brushed it aside, got into the vehicle and drove off, he recalled.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa mourned the death of Rural Development Minister Gopinath Munde. “I’m deeply saddened by the death of Hon. Gopinath Munde, India’s Min. of Rural Development. My deepest condolences to his family. -MR,” the President said in his official Twitter feed.