MUMBAI: The body of union minister Gopinath Munde, who died in a road accident in New Delhi Tuesday, was brought to Mumbai by a special aircraft. His last rites will be held in his native village of Parali-Vaijnath in Maharashtra Wednesday.
Thousands of mourners, including senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, activists and common people received the casket containing the body at the Mumbai airport where security forces accorded a guard of honour.
It was taken in a motorcade to the Munde family residence at the Purna building in Worli for relatives, friends and close acquaintances to pay their last respects to the departed leader.
Senior leaders like Vinod Tawde, Kirit Somaiya, Ramdas Athawale, Raj Purohit, Munde's daughter Pankaja Munde-Palve and others accompanied the body.
Ironically, it was the same building where Munde's brother-in-law and former BJP strongman Pramod Mahajan was gunned down by his brother Pravin eight years ago.
All along the route from Santacruz to Worli, hundreds of teary-eyed supporters who waited for several hours in the blazing sun raised slogans of "Gopinath Munde amar rahe".
Subsequently, Munde's body will be kept at the BJP state headquarters at Nariman Point, where party workers will be allowed to pay homage.
At dawn Wednesday, the body will be taken in a special aircraft to Latur and then to his native village in Parali-Vaijnath, adjoining Beed district, a distance of 65 km from Latur.
Ironically, unaware of the tragedy awaiting him, Munde was scheduled to go to Beed Tuesday to address a series of victory rallies, his first visit to his home district after the BJP-led NDA swept to power last month.
Several thousands of people, including VIPs, top national and state leaders are expected to attend the funeral, the details of which are being finalised.
Among the callers at the Munde residence to offer their last respects were Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, ministers and leaders from various parties.
Munde was born Dec 12, 1949 in Parali-Vaijnath where he received his early education.
Soon afterwards, he plunged into student politics along with brother-in-law Pramod Mahajan and was imprisoned during the Emergency.
Over the years, Munde was elected five times as legislator in Maharashtra, then leader of opposition in the Maharashtra assembly, followed by deputy chief minister, subsequently deputy leader of opposition in Lok Sabha and lastly as union minister for rural development.
He was widely tipped to be named the BJP chief ministerial candidate for the ensuing Maharashtra assembly elections in October.