Wife whiff in Munde feud

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  • Published 19.01.12

Mumbai, Jan. 18: Anna has struck, but this time it is the BJP that is crying foul.

No, this isn’t Anna Hazare the activist but Pandit Anna Munde, elder brother of the BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Gopinath Munde.

Pandit Anna has risen against his powerful younger brother and is all set to join the rival Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which shares power with the Congress in Maharashtra. At the centre of the family feud, it appears, is a Mahajan — Pradnya Mahajan Munde, Gopinath’s wife and the late Pramod Mahajan’s sister.

Pandit Anna, a BJP district-level leader, has blamed Pradnya for creating the rift. “Our sister-in-law Pradnya Munde has been responsible for the rift in the family. Ever since her marriage, she has always conspired to create differences in our family,” he alleged before confirming that he would join the NCP at a public event in Gopinath’s home constituency Parli, in Beed district, on January 19.

The development comes months after rumours swirled that Gopinath himself was planning to join Sharad Pawar’s NCP following differences with BJP national chief Nitin Gadkari. He has since stayed put, following the intervention of central leaders.

Pandit Anna did not go into details about his allegations against his sister-in-law, but sources said his main grouse was that his family was being sidelined by his brother and Pradnya.

“I have been with the BJP since the Jan Sangh days. My son Dhananjay has been associated with the party for the last 15 years. However, we are being ignored for the last three years. My younger brother does not trust us. We are not invited to party meetings, not consulted on important decisions, and decisions are imposed on us,” Pandit Anna told reporters in Parli.

Gopinath did not offer a comment, but Pramod Mahajan’s brother Prakash defended Pradnya. “It is unfortunate that Pandit Anna is trying to use my sister as an excuse to cover up his act of betraying his own younger brother. He is so swayed by all the enticements waved at him by the NCP that he has made such an allegation against a woman in his own family,” Prakash said.

The revolt is the third since September by a member of Gopinath’s extended family against the BJP leader.

Pandit Anna’s son-in-law Madhusudan Kendre, who got a BJP ticket from the Gangakhed Assembly constituency primarily because of Gopinath’s stature, quit the party to join the NCP on September 19.

Dhananjay, a BJP MLC from the region, had also rebelled against Gopinath in the last week of December when he supported a rebel candidate and got his uncle’s nominee defeated in last month’s Parli municipal council elections.

Dhananjay, 36, who has been largely looking after Gopinath’s home district Beed for several years, had been unhappy ever since his uncle chose his daughter Pankaja to contest on a BJP ticket from Parli in the October 2009 Assembly elections.

Family members said the equations started changing soon after Pramod Mahajan, widely acknowledged for bringing big funds to the party, was shot dead by his youngest brother Praveen Mahajan in May 2006.

Till Pramod Mahajan was alive, Gopinath was a power centre in the state BJP. However, after Mahajan’s death, Gadkari and his supporters emerged from the shadows to challenge Gopinath.

The differences persisted even after Gadkari became the party’s national chief and Gopinath was appointed deputy leader of the Lok Sabha.