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Rise and fall of Pankaja Munde

Pankaja Munde belongs to the Munde dynasty. Late Gopinath Munde, who was one of the major politicians in BJP, left a lot of followers that look at the Munde family with high regards. His dynasty right now represents the lower caste communities and thereby holds a lot of influence in Maharashtra. The just-concluded Maharashtra assembly elections witnessed members of powerful families turning against each other. One such battle was within the family of BJP leader late Gopinath Munde. Contesting from Parli assembly constituency, Gopinath Munde’s daughter and sitting MLA Pankaja Munde was pitted against her own cousin Dhananjay Munde from NCP, thinking that the Modi-Shah rallies will do all magic. But the ground reality is that, Pankaja failed to take people into confidence. She became motor-mouth, over ambitious and thought of only her growth than the ministry she was allotted. Her father Gopinath Munde most popular leader in Maharashtra was called as a ‘Lokneta‘(People’s leader). In 2014, Modi waves were at peak and death of Gopinath turned to be sympathy voted for Pankaja. But in 2019, this was reality check, she went on humiliating her own cousin pressing all kind of charges but he dignifiedly handled the humiliation and made sure his win. When you fail to take right advantage of power, you would be dumped any moment by people, she was the Minister of Rural and Women, Child Development in the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet. She failed to become good politician and remained as ‘businesswoman’ in the Sugar Factory sector & Bank sector.

In June 2015, the opposition party Indian National Congress accused her of being involved in the Chikki scam, alleging that she had flouted norms by clearing the purchase without floating tenders. Munde rejected the accusations of corruption, arguing that a policy for an online tendering system was not in place when she commissioned the purchase. Helpless Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also defended her, stating that in April his government introduced the norm of inviting e-tenders, two months after Munde cleared the contracts. After a few days, Anti Corruption Bureau, Maharashtra gave a clean chit to Pankaja Munde in connection with the Rs 206 crore Chikki scam alleged by the opposition and said that the tender was given in compliance with the court’s rules, with no facts in this regard. She also got a huge reprieve, as the snacks supplied to schools were found unadulterated and fit for consumption by two government labs. Since Munde took ministry she was in news for one on the other reason. Initially, she was claiming for CM post but her that ambition was put in cold storage.

Meanwhile, taking action against Munde would mean losing Vanjari community vote and thereby spoiling BJP’s image. Even if she might have done corruption, BJP wouldn’t have to worry many abilities on given opportunities. Most people in Maharashtra know BJP also indulges in corruption but all they want is development at the same time. And the party in whole is capable enough of covering their lacuna by diverting real issues. Munde losing elections is a blessing in disguise of BJP and especially Devendra. So what is the better option losing face and being anti lower caste or hiding the scam while being talked about their corruption only in silence? The latter is better for them.

Munde’s selfies with dried-up lakes proved that she has not sensitised her to the gravity of the drought situation. She asserted that water meant for industries could continue to flow to the breweries because industries have their allocations. But what happens when people don’t get enough water to drink even during normal times? Munde’s excuse for her selfies is that she was taking photos to show how the drought has affected the region. In which case, as anyone with a smartphone knows, the camera must be aimed at the affected area – the subject of the photo – and not at the person shooting the photo with broad smile. The lady ought to know that her argument can be categorised as bunkum. The irony here was that she was the minister for water resources. The people were not in a mood to forgive and hence she lost. They forgive not just these VIPs but also the brazen stealing of water from right in their midst by others with political clout. Tolerance, verging on a fatal acceptance of their situation, is at the heart of it all – something the politicos exploit to their advantage. They know India would never have its Arab Spring. After initial assessments of the scarcity conditions, lawmakers need not visit villages and talukas. All they need to do is ensure that solutions are quickly found and implemented. If the state was really focused on solving the problem, today BJP could have retained some rural seats. BJP MLA Subhash Deshmukh and local legislator Amit Deshmukh, son of late Vilasrao Deshmukh were provided with lot of water but commoners had no water to drink. Yet, the BJP government had stayed silent on catching culprits. Pankaja Munde could have used such situation by solacing people towards creating political goodwill. She had well amount of her father’s supporters. Today Pankaja not failed herself but failed her father and most importantly the voters who once trusted her the most.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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