Politics of Maharashtra is one of the most uncertain one. It’s not possible conquer the throne of Delhi, without the helping hand from this state. This state has always favoured the traditional politics of Congress and Maratha Stalwart NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar. State earlier stood unanimously with Yashwantrao Chavan, Vasantrao Naik and then with Pawar.
In 1990, late Pramod Mahajan and late Gopinath Munde allied with Balasaheb Thackeray’s Shivsena on the point of Hindutva. BJP was often called as the party of Brahmins and the upper class and had negligible presence in the rural Maharashtra. Gopinath Munde, being an OBC leader, took party to villages and lowers. Munde was known to counter Sharad Pawar.
After hardship of two decades he was able to convince the people that he is the best alternative to dominance of Pawar and snatched his throne. Though BJP was in opposition in centre, Munde marched to power with Shivsena alliance. Now BJP had a face to count on. After taking to the crown, Munde’s dominance grew over state BJP.
After the unfortunate demise of Gopinath Munde, BJP in the state appeared leaderless. He was the only claimant of the Chief mister’s chair in upcoming assembly election. But the vacuum created due to his death also created new chief ministerial candidates. Out of which one was his own daughter Pankaja Gopinath Munde. She currently holds the Rural Development portfolio in the state cabinet.
Along with Pankaja, other claimants were Eknath Khadse, who is expelled from cabinet on alleged corruption charges, and 3rd one was Vinod Tawade, who with wisdom accepted the provided portfolio quietly. BJP coronated then BJP state president Devendra Fadanvis. This was considered to be a major blow to Munde as she had expressed her desires publicly.
Fadanvis has clean image along with credence of party leadership and RSS as well. So, he was selected over Pankaja and Khadse. Khadse’s continuous displeasure with party became liability. Furthermore, the allegations of corruption made him lose his stature. With Tawade subdued, Pankaja was the only one left who could be called of same stature as Fadanvis.
In June 2015, she faced allegations of corruption in Chikki (Biscuit) distribution from opposition. Her cousin Dhananjay Munde who is NCP leader and Leader of opposition in legislative council, pitted this against her. Congress Spokesperson Sachin Sawant filed complaint with ACB alleging scam of 206 crores in Chikki distribution.
After the ACB investigation the allegations were proved to be false and she was acquitted of all charges. ACB investigation report came after the municipal elections in Maharashtra. This might be one of the major reasons of her defeat in municipal elections. She lost it to her cousin Dhananjay Munde.
CM Devendra Fadanvis holds the Home ministry as well. He could have paced up investigations, but he didn’t. I don’t mean to influence the report, but to make authorities treat it as priority. Was the CM not willing to help?
But for Pankaja, getting acquitted of the Chikki scam allegations was not the end of hurdles.
A new trouble rose when 10 crores of old currency notes were recovered in Mumbai. The amount belonged to Baidyanath Co-operative bank, Parli, which is operated by her sister and BJP MP from Beed Constituency Pritam Munde. And Pankaja was again on the railing of questions.
Bank did give the clarification of the cash recovered. On further investigation ACB filed FIR against two officials of the bank and a doctor in Mumbai and a doctor in Aurangabad. ACB is carrying out the further investigation.
This isn’t the first time when old currency notes are recovered from entities linked to BJP ministers. On November 17 2016, amount of 91,50,000 was seized from a private vehicle which was owned by minister of Cooperatives Subhash Deshmukh. In his clarification, he told that the amount seized belongs to Lokmangal group operated by him. No big headlines were made then.
By looking at Pankaja’s aggression, mass base, OBC votes, and her ambitions, it appears to benefit Fadanvis if Pankaja remains busy fighting such allegations. Is some internal politics at play here?
Nothing will come out from the investigation about Baidyanath Bank incident as well. BJP can’t afford to lose Pankaja, as losing her will malign image of state BJP and will hamper votes of OBC.