Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Maharashtra strongman and Union minister in Narendra Modi`s Cabinet, Gopinath Munde died on Tuesday after sustaining multiple internal injuries in a road accident in the national capital early this morning.
Munde, the Union Rural Development Minister and a popular backward class leader from the western state, was going to the airport when his Maruti SX4 car was hit by a Tata Indica at the Prithviraj Road-Tughlak Road intersection in central Delhi.
A brother-in-law of late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, Munde is survived by his wife and three daughters, one of whom is an MLA from Parli in Maharashtra`s Beed district.
64-year-old Munde was inducted into the Union Cabinet for the first time last week.
"The minister has died of multiple internal injuries. No external wound was found on his body. When he was brought to Trauma Centre, his pulse and hearth beat were not working," AIIMS spokesperson Dr Amit Gupta said after a team of doctors conducted a post-mortem on his body.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said Munde suffered cervical fractures and oxygen to the brain and lungs may have been cut off following the injuries. His liver had tear at 2-3 places and there was one-and-half litres of blood in his abdomen because of the injury, he said.
"The major thing that cost him very heavily was a fracture of the cervical spines C1 and C2. When you have fracture at C1 and C2, the blood supply at the brain gets cut off because the vertebral artery gets damaged immediately," Vardhan, himself a doctor, said.
Munde`s Secretary S Nair, who was in the car, said the Union Minister received a huge shock after the accident and apparently suffered a massive heart attack.
A senior police official said the Indica car which jumped the traffic signal at Aurobindo Chowk collided with the Maruti Suzuki SX4 in which Munde was travelling towards Safdarjung road from Prithviraj road.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and a host of national leaders cutting across political spectrum expressed shock over his death. They paid glowing tribute to a man who rose from humble origins to become a popular leader.
The body was brought to the BJP national headquarters where Ansari, Modi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, LK Advani, and top RSS brass were among those who placed wreaths and paid respects to the departed leader.
His body was later in the day taken to Mumbai and briefly kept at his Worli residence, before being shifted to the Mumbai BJP office.
Munde will be accorded state funeral at his home town Parli in Beed district of Maharashtra on Wednesday at 4:30 pm.
Earlier in the morning, Dr Gupta said Munde was brought to the Trauma Centre of AIIMS at 6:30 am by his personal assistant and driver.
Munde was sitting in the backseat of his car which was hit by another car at around 6:20 am from the side he was sitting, he said.
On his arrival at the Trauma Centre, there was no spontaneous breathing, no blood pressure, no pulse, no cardiac activity. So immediately Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) was started and continued for the next 15 minutes. Despite resuscitative measures, Munde could not be revived and was declared dead at 7:20 am, he said.
Munde was hypertensive and a sugar patient. He has no major external injuries on his body. "We cannot say anything but clinically we might say that he had a sudden cardiac death".
The driver of the Indica car was detained from the spot and later arrested by police.
Police said Munde had some minor abrasions on his nose.
After the accident, Munde sought water and asked his driver to take him to the hospital, police said.
Munde was considered the architect of social engineering in BJP since the mid-1990s and was responsible for adding parties like RPI and Rashtriya Samaj Party and Swabhimani Paksh into the Sena-BJP alliance that virtually swept the polls winning 42 of the 48 seats.
He had only last night attended a meeting of the Union Council of Ministers called by the Prime Minister and was proceeding to Mumbai for work when the accident occurred.
Munde hailed from a poor family in the backward Marathwada region and was brought into politics by the late BJP leader Vasantrao Bhagwat, who also groomed several other leaders including Pramod Mahajan.
Munde was recently caught in a row over his educational qualifications with Congress alleging that he "graduated" in 1976 from a college established in 1978.
Expressing grief over the untimely demise of 64-year-old Munde, the President said, "In his death, we have lost a veteran leader who always worked for the common man".
Modi said he was saddened by the demise of Munde.
"Extremely saddened & shocked by the demise of my friend & colleague Gopinath Mundeji. He was a true mass leader. Hailing from backward sections of society, he rose to great heights & tirelessly served people," Modi tweeted.
As a mark of respect to Munde, the national flag was being flown at half mast in Delhi, state capitals and Union Territories on Tuesday.
(With PTI inputs)