The 64-year BJP leader from the OBC Vanzara community was among the party’s strongest mass leaders in Maharashtra and was expected to lead the party in the state assembly polls in October
Born into a poor farmer’s family in the arid Beed district of Marathwada, Union Minister for Rural Development charted an impressive political journey. The 64-year BJP leader from the OBC Vanzara community was among the party’s strongest mass leaders in Maharashtra and was expected to lead the party in the state assembly polls in October.
Mr. Munde was a two-term MP from Beed and had been elected as an MLA five times from the same region. He had served as Deputy Chief Minister in the Shiv Sena-BJP government in the state between 1995 and 2000, holding the crucial portfolios of home and power. He was also a key mediator in the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in the state.
Mr. Munde is survived by his wife and three daughters. His eldest daughter Pankaja is now an MLA from Mr Munde’s home constituency. His niece Poonam Mahajan in an MP from Mumbai North Central.
He struggled against odds to make it to the top. He would recount how he was educated in a primary school which had no building, the classes were conducted under a tree. He even said he had to walk 12 kilometres to sit for his exams.
Mr. Munde got involved in politics in his student days, joining the ABVP and later the Jan Sangh. He was also keenly involved in the activities of the RSS. He participated in the agitation against the Emergency and even went to jail. In college in Ambejogai, he came into contact with late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, with whom he would forge a life-long partnership. They later became brothers in law, with Mr Munde marrying Mr Mahajan’s sister.
The duo went onto occupy key positions with Mr Mahajan climbing the ladder of the BJP central leadership and Mr Munde heading the BJP in the state. However, with Mr Majahan’s murder in 2006, Mr Munde’s stock within the BJP fell and his rival within the state Nitin Gadkari went on to become the national BJP president. In the years that followed, Mr Munde found himself sidelined and there was even talk of him leaving the party.
However, he stayed within the party fold and found himself back in the reckoning especially within his home state Maharashtra. He led the state’s campaign for the Lok Sabha elections this year and was to head its campaign for the state assembly polls as well.