Munde gets a thumbs down at core committee meet

Sharp differences surface as leaders insist on retaining Sudhir Mungantiwar.

Senior BJP leaders in Maharashtra made it clear Tuesday deputy leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde was not acceptable to all factions as the state party president.

The top leadership of the state BJP unit insisted on a second term for Sudhir Mungantiwar.

At a party core committee meeting in Mumbai that lasted a couple of hours, three of five top leaders politely conveyed to Munde to drop out of the race.

In a subtle message, they said, "Mungantiwar is most suitable to lead the organisation as he is a non-controversial and low-profile leader."

They countered the argument that the party needed an aggressive face, saying: "In a cadre-based party such as BJP what matters is collective leadership. It does not matter who is leading as long as the leadership is accepted by all."

However, they kept the option of Nagpur MLA Devendra Fadnavis open in case the Munde camp insists on a change of guard in the state.

Leader of opposition in the legislative council Vinod Tawde, leader of opposition in the legislative assembly Eknath Khadse, general secretary Ravi Bhusari and Mungantiwar categorically said Munde was not acceptable to them as the state leader.

They, however, did not have a problem with him leading the 2014 poll campaign in the state and were ready to extend full support.

The Gadkari camp said, "At the moment, they have no valid reason to remove Mungantiwar.

"In the past three years, Mungantiwar has served the organisation well. There is not a single controversy involving him. He has kept the state organisation united."

Officially, Munde said, "I am not interested (in the post of state president). I have held the post for three terms in the past. Taking the charge would confine me to organisational work and not allow time and freedom to tour Maharashtra.

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