Gopinath Munde denies plans to join Shiv Sena

The BJP`s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha feels he is being sidelined in the party.

Mumbai: On the eve of a crucial Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) meeting in New Delhi, its senior leader Gopinath Munde on Friday admitted he was feeling "unhappy" in the party but denied he has been invited to join the Shiv Sena.

The BJP`s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, who feels he is being sidelined in the party, said he "had no plans to join the Shiv Sena" and dismissed all speculation on this count.

Munde admitted at a crowded media conference on Friday evening that he has "certain issues that need to be resolved" with the BJP.

"However, I will attend the meeting of senior party leaders tomorrow and listen to them. I will seek time to consider their views and then take any decision in the matter," Munde said.

He categorically denied that during his two meetings with Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, the latter invited him to join the party or made any promises, as speculated in some media circles.

"Moreover, on my part, I have not expressed any desire to join Shiv Sena," Munde clarified.

He also said that he had not sought any post in the BJP, including charge of Maharashtra, and said that he had not held any discussion in this regard with any top party leaders.

"I received a call from (Maharashtra in-charge) Venkaiah Naidu and state BJP leaders like Eknath Khadse and state party chief Sudhir Mungantiwar, requesting me to attend the meeting. I have decided to go for it," he said.

BJP circles are rife with speculation that Munde has been invited to join the Shiv Sena, the party`s alliance partner in the state, and that the Sena has offered to project him as the chief minister after the next elections.

Though BJP officials declined to go on record, they hinted that if the Sena accommodates Munde - whose relations with BJP president Nitin Gadkari are strained - it would snap the alliance in the state.

Countering this, Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut said that "any decision on continuing or breaking the alliance with the BJP rests only with Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray”.

Meanwhile, Munde held another round of consultations at his Worli residence on Friday with his supporters to chart out the future strategy.

During the past few weeks, Munde has been on a visiting spree, meeting top leaders from the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.

Top BJP leaders maintain that Munde will be asked to present his grievances and the issue would be resolved amicably.


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