Pankaja Munde, Rohini defeated by party, says BJP leader



 In yet more major rumbling within the Bharatiya Janata Party's Maharashtra unit, a senior state leader on Wednesday openly accused the party of ensuring the defeat of former minister Pankaja Munde-Palwe and another candidate, Rohini Khadse, among others.

Displaying signs of revolt, former minister and BJP's seniormost leader in the state, Eknath Khadse said that "the party must accept responsibility" for these losses.

"When we win, they take credit, but when we lose, we are blamed. The party must also take culpability for the defeat. This is what we have learnt in the past 40 years in the party," he said.

Khadse also said that "it appears that both (Pankaja and his daughter Rohini) may have been defeated due to their OBC backgrounds" - suggesting serious differences within the party on these lines.

Hinting at a grouping of like-minded leaders, he said if "victors can unite, even the vanquished can join hands", but did not elaborate.

Earlier on Wednesday, former minister Vinod Tawde rushed to mollify Khadse who last week declared that "if senior leaders had not been sidelined, the BJP could have won at least 25-30 seats more" in the October 21 Assembly elections.

Later this evening, Khadse called on Pankaja Munde and said that she held similar views on the party's responsibility for her's and Rohini's poll defeats, and related aspects.

Referring to the month-long political upheavals that rocked the state recently, Khadse said that the BJP-Shiv Sena had fought the elections as a 'Maha-Yuti' and secured a majority.

"However, due to the failed negotiations, Uddhav Thackeray has become the (Maha Vikas Aghadi) Chief Minister. I congratulate hima I feel that if the BJP had taken a couple of steps back, we could have formed a 'Maha-Yuti' government," he said, alluding to Devendra Fadnavis' insistence on the CM's post which derailed the negotiations between the two long-standing allies.

Incidentally, this was Tawde's second fire-fighting operation in two days involving two senior and apparently disgruntled leaders.

Khadse was also among the 'senior leaders' denied a ticket this time by the BJP, but his daughter Rohini was fielded from Muktainagar as a consolation to ward off a possible rebellion.

On Tuesday, Tawde had gone to meet Pankaja, and Wednesday, he rushed to Khadse - both visits an attempt to soothe their ruffled feathers.

Pankaja, who made an emotional social media post on Sunday which rattled the BJP, claimed yesterday that she had "no plans to quit the BJP" after her meeting with Tawde.

However, the picture will be clear only on December 12 when she addresses a massive rally of her supporters in Gopinathgad, Beed.

Following the two senior leaders' comments, the BJP has been hearing voices of discontent at different levels from leaders and activists, all sore that the party lost an opportunity to come to power for the second consecutive time due to the adamance of certain individuals, party sources indicated.IANS