Mumbai: The stage is set for a confrontation between supporters of state minister Pankaja Munde and head priest Namdev Shastri at Bhagwangad in Beed district tomorrow as the BJP leader has expressed her resolve to hold a rally at the spot despite the local administration denying permission.
Police have deployed teams at the venue to stave off any untoward incident, given flexing of muscles by camps of Pankaja, daughter of BJP stalwart late Gopinath Munde, and Namdev Shastri. Beed Collector Navalkishor Ram has denied permission to hold any rally at Bhagwangad considering a potential threat to law and order.
“Pankaja Munde has not been allowed to hold any kind of rally at Bhagwangad,” Ram said. However, a defiant Pankaja said, “Dussehra rally has been started by my baba (late Gopinath Munde) and he had addressed several rallies from Bhagwangad on Dussehra. It is a tradition and nobody can stop us.”
She said that being daughter of late Munde gives her the right to address people. “It is not an issue of district administration but of emotions,” the minister said, adding the rally is not a political event. Shastri has taken a stand that no political speech will be allowed at Bhagwangad.
When asked about the leak of her conversation in which she purportedly talked tough about Shastri, who has opposed the rally, Munde denied “making any threats”.
“I never spoke anything about Shastriji and I don’t have differences with him. In fact, I have respect for him and Bhagwangad. I will never do something that spoils the decorum of the place,” she said.
Munde was in eye of a storm when her conversation with her close associates was leaked in which she had purportedly “threatened” the head priest. The opposition had demanded her resignation over the issue.