Gopinath Munde dies in road accident

Union minister suffered internal injuries, cardiac arrest; funeral to be held in Beed today

Gopinath Munde dies in road accident

Tragedy marred the festive mood in the infant Narendra Modi government with the demise of Union Rural Development Minister Gopinath Munde in an early Tuesday morning road accident in the capital, that left the BJP leadership stunned and political class perplexed.

The BJP’s tallest Maharashtra leader, Munde, was being driven in his official Maruti Suzuki SX4 car to catch a flight for participating in a victory celebration at his native place in Beed district when it was hit on Prithviraj Road by a taxi coming from Aurobindo Road at 6:20 am. Munde, 64, was rushed to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) by his personal staff, where he was declared dead by the doctors due to cardiac arrest which occurred due to excessive bleeding from a ruptured liver.

Though the official car was not severely damaged, the impact on the minister’s body was forceful enough to rupture his liver. “He suffered cervical fractures and oxygen to his brain and lungs may have been cut off. His liver was ruptured and he lost one, two litres of blood,” an emotional Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who was among the first few to rush to hospital, told reporters.

As the news spread, his shocked and wailing family members, including his two daughters — BJP legislator Pankaja Palve and Yashashri — flew down to the national capital to be present next to Munde. His body was taken in an Army hearse from AIIMS to 11 Ashoka Road BJP headquarters for last ‘darshan’ where sullen and grim-faced BJP leaders, cadres and well wishers paid their respects to an OBC Vanzara community leader whose humility and willingness to meet anyone and everyone touched many hearts.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues, including Rajnath Singh, M Venkaiah Naidu and Sushma Swaraj, Vice President Hamid Ansari and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat were among the important people who turned up to pay tribute to the departed leader. BJP patriarch L K Advani along with his daughter Prathiba was seen talking to the family of the deceased minister.

For the first time, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi visited BJP office to offer condolences. Other non-BJP leaders who paid tribute were NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his daughter Supriya Sule, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav and some diplomats.

The special plane carrying the body, accompanied by Munde’s relatives and party members, landed at the domestic airport in Mumbai. The body was taken to ‘Poorna’ building in Worli, Munde’s residence.

It would be flown to Latur in central Maharashtra on Wednesday morning. From Latur, the body will be taken to Parali in Beed district (Munde’s Lok Sabha constituency), around 70 km from Latur. The Munde family hails from Nathra village near Parali.The funeral is expected to take place at 4:30 pm on the premises of a sugar factory founded by Munde near Parali on Wednesday, party sources said.

A special cabinet meeting was convened in the evening to mourn Munde’s death.
Recognising Munde’s services to the nation, the PM headed cabinet passed a resolution. “A grassroot politician with a mass base and an ardent advocate of democracy... the Cabinet places on record its appreciation of Gopinath Munde’s services to the nation in different capacities both at the state and national level,” the resolution said.

Prime Minister Modi tweeted that “Gopinath Mundeji was a true mass leader. Hailing from backward section of society, he rose to great heights & tirelessly served people”.

The Tata Indica (DL 7C E5459) taxi driver, Gurvinder Singh, 32, was arrested and let off on bail by a city court for hitting Munde’s car on the side he was sitting in the rear seat.
“We are investigating whether he (Gurvinder Singh) jumped the red light in the morning,” Joint Police Commissioner (New Delhi) M K Meena told reporters. The driver was questioned by Intelligence Bureau and Special Cell to rule out any conspiracy behind the accident, the likes of which have claimed the lives of previous ministers.

Tragedy struck the Munde family at a time when things started rolling in his favour. He won the Lok Sabha election from Beed and became a minister, while his daughter Pankaja is an MLA from Parli, the home town of Munde. BJP leaders said that he was to be projected as Maharashtra chief minister candidate in the coming assembly polls.

But, the family was dragged to a gloomy period of 2006 when his brother-in-law and BJP leader Pramod Mahajan was shot at by his own brother Pravin. Since May 3, that year — the day Pramod Mahajan succumbed to bullet injuries — strangely the number 3 appears to have brought bad omen to the Munde-Mahajan extended family.

Munde’s wife Pradnya is the sister of Pramod Mahajan. A month after Pramod’s death — which is on June 3 — 2006, his personal aide Vivek Moitra was found dead and his son Rahul unconscious in his official bungalow in Delhi.

Four years later, the number came haunting again when on March 3, 2010, Pravin Mahajan passed away in a Thane hospital.

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