Following the demise of Congress leader Vilasrao Deshmukh, the Congress is now eyeing BJP leader Gopinath Munde to fill the political leadership vacuum in Marathawada region of Maharashtra.
If highly placed sources in the Congress and BJP are to be believed, the Congress has been successful in its mission to woo Munde who has been resenting the cold-shoulder he has been receiving in the BJP since 2009.
Though the Congress had initiated talks with Munde in the last few months, the discussions picked up after the demise of Deshmukh. The Congress is keen to get Munde as besides hailing from Beed, he is also an OBC leader which is a plus for the party.
Munde, who is the BJP’s general secretary, is a party MP from Beed in Marathwada, a region in which the only leader the Congress has is Ashok Chavan, who has been sidelined after being accused in the Adarsh scam. Besides Chavan, the other big Congress leader from Marathwada region was Deshmukh who had an untimely death in a Chennai hospital after failing to get a liver transplant.
As Chavan’s rehabilitation in the party hinges on the outcome of the Adarsh case before the CBI court, the Congress has been left with no leader to steer the party in the Marathwada region. Deshmukh hailed from Latur, Chavan is from Nanded and Munde from Beed - all neighbouring districts in Marathwada region.
In 2009, Munde was asked to contest the parliamentary elections despite his unwillingness as he wanted to be involved in the state affairs. In fact, the BJP ‘elevated’ him to an MP so that he would interfere less in party affairs in the the state.
Munde found himself further sidelined in party after his arch rival Nitin Gadkari was made the party president.
In fact, in the past, Munde had even contacted Deshmukh to join the Congress, however the BJP had dissuaded him from doing so. In the last two years, several of Munde’s supporters have left the BJP and joined the Congress.
Munde had switched his phone off and was not available for comment.