Munde, Bhujbal meeting raises eyebrows

Mumbai: Adding to speculations that he may quit the party, the deputy leader of BJP in Lok Sabha, Gopinath Munde on Monday met senior NCP leader and Maharashtra PWD Minister, Chhagan Bhujbal, thus keeping the political circles on the tenterhooks.

Munde, known as the only crowd puller leader in Maharashtra BJP, did not attend the recently concluded BJP-Sena-RPI rally held here. He also avoided attending three similar rallies held in the recent past in various cities.

Speculations are rife over his likely crossover in the backdrop of his differences with the party chief Nitin Gadkari. The latest trigger souring further the relations between the two came in the appointment of Gadkari-loyalist Vikas Mathkari as president of Pune BJP which left Munde fulminating.

Keeping the BJP on tenterhooks about his future political action, Munde today met senior NCP minister Chhagan Bhujbal here. The duo closeted in an hour-long meeting barely a day after he had met Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray yesterday.

Munde had on June 10 met his old friend and senior Congress leader Vilasrao Deshmukh.

The seeds of difference were sown when Munde's supporter Yogesh Gogawale was not considered for the post of Pune unit president over Mathkari, reportedly a protege of Gadkari.

The supporters of Munde had then taken up the matter of appointing Mathkari with senior BJP leader L K Advani after Venkaiah Naidu had met them prior to the election of the city unit president to seek views.

Whether his detractors in BJP like it or not, the fact remains that Munde is the biggest mass leader for the party in Maharashtra.