Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Munde cousins unite to keep Beed with family

Burying all differences, Dhananjay has emerged as the star campaigner for his cousin Pankaja.
Last Updated : 11 May 2024, 21:32 IST
Last Updated : 11 May 2024, 21:32 IST

Follow Us :


Beed: The high-voltage phase-3 Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra saw the once closely-knit Pawar family contesting among themselves in Baramati. 

In the Beed constituency, on the contrary, two warring Munde cousins have united in the run-up to the phase-4 polls. 

In Marathwada’s keenly-watched Lok Sabha seat of Beed, the BJP has fielded Pankaja Munde while the NCP (SP) has put up Bajrang Sonawane, a skilled and ambitious politician. 

Pankaja is the daughter of late BJP leader Gopinath Munde and niece of BJP stalwart Pramod Mahajan. 

Pankaja, the BJP’s national general secretary, was given the ticket this time in place of her sister Pritam Munde, who easily won the seat in the 2014 bye-election by a record margin after her father’s death, and in 2019, when she defeated Sonawane. 

Pankaja is now being helped out by her cousin and state’s agriculture minister Dhananjay Munde, who is the son of the late Pandit Anna Munde, the elder brother of Gopinath Munde. 

Owing to family issues, Dhananjay had rebelled against Gopinath Munde and joined the undivided NCP, and is now among the close aides of Ajit Pawar. 

In the 2019 Vidhan Sabha polls, Pankaja, who was the rural development minister in the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP-Shiv Sena government, was defeated by Dhananjay from the family stronghold of Parli. Subsequently, she was sidelined by the state BJP and was not considered for nomination to the Maharashtra Legislative Council or the Rajya Sabha. 

The Mundes hail from the Vanjari community and have a big connection with the OBC community. Her rival Sonawane is a Maratha. 

Burying all differences, Dhananjay has emerged as the star campaigner for his relative. 

The polls are being held amid the tussle between the Maratha and OBC communities over the reservation, and the Marathwada region is the epicentre of the issue. 

Given the composition of Beed’s demography, the issue took a violent turn last year when arson and vandalism were reported in Beed in October-November as a fallout of the reservation issue. 

The Beed seat has been synonymous with the Munde family since 2009 when Gopinath Munde defeated NCP’s Ramesh Adaskar and then went on to win in 2014 defeating Suresh Dhas of the NCP.

Pankaja won the Parli Assembly seat in 2009 and 2014 after Gopinath was elected to the Lok Sabha. “Pankaja is being given a tough fight by Sonawane. In the 2019 polls, Pritam Munde got 6,78,175 while Sonawane managed 5,09,807 and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’s Vishnu Jadhav got 92,139 votes,” veteran politician analyst AK Joshi said, adding that after the split in NCP, Sonawane joined hands with Ajit, but was among the first to return to Sharad Pawar.

In a big boost to Sonawane’s campaign, former Maharashtra minister Suresh Navale resigned from the Shinde-led Shiv Sena and announced support for Sonawane. 

Published 11 May 2024, 21:32 IST

Follow us on :

Follow Us