New Delhi: Gopinath Munde episode has brought to surface the underlying growing acrimony between top party leaders in the BJP. Despite various efforts by top leaders to hide the fissure, the party interest finds itself lurking and personal ego clashes taking over.

Albeit the party top leaders are still trying to pacify disgruntled Munde and get him back into the party folds, skeptical Munde refuses to trust their words. In fact, the matter has taken such a foul turn that the BJP has decided not to woo him if he sticks to his stand and refuses to budge from his decision.

Nitin Gadkari’s taking over as the party’s president had a direct affect on Maharashtra politics. Munde, a staunch BJP leader who has been in the party since its Jan Sangh days, started finding himself being sidelined in the party after Gadkari took over the party.

Munde also does not approve Gadkari’s leadership. The two have been at loggerheads on several issues in recent times.

Munde is reportedly disgruntled after BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, once his junior in state unit, spurned the former''s demands to make him the Opposition leader in the State Assembly and to make supporter Pandurang Phundkar the state BJP president in place of Sudhir Mungantiwar.

It is said that Munde tried to express his displeasure with other party leaders about Gadkari’s ways but his efforts went unheeded forcing him to take an aggressive stand.
Accoridng to a senior party leader, ‘if Gadkari would have tried to chalk out the differences with Munde directly then the problem could have been aborted.’

Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar tried to coax Munde but failed following which L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj took up the task of pacifying Munde.

Munde moving closer to Congress?
   
Sulking BJP leader Gopinath Munde appears moving closer to the Congress. An indication to this effect was available today as Munde has not met any BJP central leaders especially L K Advani after his arrival here on Tuesday night from Mumbai.
   
"Munde appears to have made up his mind to go to Congress," conceded a senior BJP leader who declined to be named.

There was speculation that Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan along with Munde met Ahmed Patel, political secretary to the Congress president, but there was no confirmation.
   
The Maharashtra Chief Minister, who is here apparently to give an assessment to the party high command on the Munde issue, met Patel late last night.
   
A feeling in the BJP camp is that Munde appears to have come to the conclusion that his grievances are unlikely to be resolved by meeting Nitin Gadkari.
   
Meanwhile, Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who is known to be close to Munde, has also arrived in Delhi to be at hand for possible consultations.
      
Former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who like Munde hails from Marathwada region, met with Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday.

Asked about the possibility of Munde joining Congress, Deshmukh said it was not proper to talk about the issue till he is part of BJP.
   
"This is a hypothetical question," he said, adding that Munde has been his friend from the time when both of them were not even in politics.
   
Asked whether Munde was the right man in the "wrong party", he said, "If it was so, it was for him to think about it".
   
Both Deshmukh and Munde hail from Marathwada region of Maharashtra.


JPN/Bureau