Tens of thousands of supporters and distraught family members today bid a tearful farewell to Gopinath Munde, Maharashtra BJP’s tallest mass leader, who was killed in a car crash on Tuesday.
Munde is considered the architect of Maharastra BJP’s impressive victory in the Lok Sabha elections. A sea of humanity converged at his hometown to pay last respects to the towering leader from the backward Marathwada region, as his eldest daughter Pankaja lit the funeral pyre amid roars of “Gopinath Munde amar rahe” and “Munde Saheb parat ya (Munde Sir, come again)”.
Munde, 64, Union Rural Development Minister, was killed in a road accident in Delhi while he was on way to Parli for a felicitation following his own and BJP’s resounding victory in the Lok Sabha elections, that saw him re-elected for a second time from Beed.
However, in a cruel twist of fate, he could not reach there alive and only his mortal remains were brought to the Baidyanath Sugar Factory compound for performing the last rites, a few kilometres away from ‘Totla Maidan’, the venue of the felicitation that never happened.
The BJP veteran is survived by his wife Pradnya and three daughters including Pankaja, BJP MLA from Parli and heir to his political legacy.
Pankaja lighting her father’s funeral pyre marked a departure from the Hindu tradition of a male member of the family doing duty and signalled her taking over the leader’s political mantle. Several senior BJP leaders including Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, a close associate of Munde since his days as a student leader in Pune.