Will Pankaja Munde concur or quit BJP?
The BJP circles in Maharashtra went into a tizzy after its heavyweight leader and ex-minister Pankaja Munde-Palwe suddenly penned an emotive Facebook post on Sunday and silently dropped the party's name from her Twitter handle on Monday.
On Sunday, she invited her followers for a planned rally in Gopinathgad, a memorial of her father and former Union Minister the late Gopinath Munde, in their family bastion of Beed district.
"Looking at the changed political scenario in the state, there is a need to think and decide the way ahead. I need time of some 8-10 days for self-introspection. Our future journey needs to be decided against the backdrop of the current changed political circumstances," she said.
"I will think on the path ahead... What's to be done, by which route, what can I give to our people, what are people's expectations, what is our strength... I shall consider all this and come before you on December 12," Munde added.
Signing off, she added: "Hope you will join me... 'Mavlas' will be definitely coming."
Incidentally, Shiv Sainiks are today often referred to as 'Mavlas' -- once the foot soldiers in Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's army.
Even as intense speculation fuelled the political circles, Pankaja Munde created a flutter afresh by dropping 'BJP' from her Twitter handle on Monday.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut added to the confusion by saying: "Why only Pankaja Munde? Many other senior (BJP) leaders are in touch with us."
As the situation seemed to go out of hand, none other than State BJP President Chandrakant Patil came to the media and scotched all rumours of her quitting the party.
"We have spoken with her. There's no truth in the media reports. She remains our senior leader and will always be with BJP. Nobody knows how long this 'accidental government' will survive," Patil said.
Refuting theories that Pankaja Munde was demanding immediate rehabilitation in a senior post, former minister Vinod Tawde said that she has not made any such demands.
Last week, when Uddhav Thackeray took oath as Maharashtra Chief Minister, Pankaja Munde had sent one of the warmest greetings.
"Dear and Respected Uddhavji, I wish you the best of luck. One Thackeray (Aditya) contested elections for the first time and another Thackeray (Uddhav) became the CM! Heartiest Congratulations! Maharashtra's culture and traditions say 'State's interest is always first'. You have fulfilled the wishes of Balasaheb Thackeray and hope you will also live up to the people's expectations, this is what I pray to God," she had said.
Reciprocating with equal warmth, Thackeray replied on Monday: "My heartfelt thanks. The state will always be the first priority and the Maha Vikas Aghadi government will work on this guiding principle. I promise, we will build a state of which even Gopinath Munde would be proud of."
In a big shock, Pankaja Munde lost in the Assembly polls last month from her family stronghold of Parli to none other than her cousin and Nationalist Congress Party leader Dhananjay Munde, raising questions on who would now claim the Munde family's legacy.
Besides her social media words, Pankaja Munde, once an aspirant for the CM's post, has kept mum on her future strategy.
A Sena leader said that given the close family ties between the Thackerays and the late Munde-Mahajan duo, besides similar ideological commitments, "nothing should surprise the BJP now".
Incidentally, her father Gopinath Munde and uncle the late Pramod Mahajan were both very close to Balasaheb Thackeray, and were among a handful of BJP leaders who had unlimited access to him at 'Matoshri'.-IANS