Gopinath Munde - Political Career

Political Career

Munde got involved into Politics when he met Pramod Mahajan, a friend and colleague in the college. Although both belonged to different groups, they went along nicely and formed an everlasting bond. Finally, Munde became actively involved in the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad when his friends almost forced him to join in. He took part in the agitation against the state of emergency imposed by the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and was incarcerated in the Nashik central jail until it was lifted. A year later, in 1971, he associated with the campaign of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh candidate in the Lok Sabha election in the Beed constituency. The candidate lost, but he had the first experience of election politics that proved invaluable during his career.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Work :
The turning point of his career was, however, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's Shiksha Varga (Training Camp) held in Pune that year. He was sent from Ambejogai for this camp which imbibed the values for which the RSS stands for: discipline, sacrifice, dedication to the cause of the nation. As he joined ILS Law College in Pune that year, his involvement in the activity of the RSS increased. He was put up in Motibaag, the city headquarters of the RSS for over a year. The RSS leaders in Pune nominated him Mukhya Shikshak of Samaratha Shakha and later, Karyavah of the Chanakya Shakha. Three years after he came to Pune proved to be impressionable to him as he had the opportunity to listen to veterans like Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar Guruji and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Shripati Shastriji and others influenced him in this period. He was entrusted with greater responsibilities in the activities of the Sangh. He soon became the Sambhajinagar Mandal Karyavah looking after half a dozen shakhas of the RSS, then in charge of its Pune City Students' Cell. Later he was made a member of the executive committee of the city RSS.
Jayaprakash Narayan's Movement:
January 1974 is an important milestone in his political career. It was a turbulent period in the country as Jayaprakash Narayan had launched a movement for total revolution involving the youth to fight against Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's misrule. He was the conveyor of the City College Students' Committee that was keen to present him a scroll of honors during his visit to Pune. A Citizens' Committee comprising Socialists and other opposition party leaders went back on its word and had decided to deny them the opportunity to present their scroll to him at the grand public reception. He determined to go ahead at the railway station to greet Jayaprakash Narayan. Hundreds of college students brushed aside these elders at the station and read out the citation immediately after Jaya Prakashji alighted from the train. Ultimately, these elders gave him an exclusive audience with him late that night when he asked students to devote themselves to the cause of Total Revolution.
Imprisonment during Emergency:
Munde was in the third year of the Law College when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's Congress (I) government imposed Internal Emergency in the country in 1975. Jaya Prakashji and thousands of leaders and activists of the movement were put behind the bars. The Bharatiya Jana Sangh leaders, mainly Mr. Vasantrao Bhagwat and Mr. Pramod Mahajan, asked him to take a plunge into politics and sent him to Sambhajinagar (Aurangabad) to spread the movement. Munde led a Satyagraha on August 9 and was underground for two months to spread the message of total revolution and to organize the discontent among the people against the oppressive rule of the Congress (I). Just as he was in charge of Sambhajinagar (Aurangabad), Pramod Mahajanji was overseeing the movement in the entire Marathwada region. Both were arrested and sent to the Central Jail in Nashik.
Fight against Oppression:
The 16 months of imprisonment in the central jail was another turning point of in his life. He was more determined than ever to work ceaselessly to overthrow the political system that was oppressive and corrupt. Munde had the opportunity to interact with about 2000 political prisoners in the jail, read books and participate in discussions initiated by leaders like Mr. Mohan Dharia, Mr. Baba Bhide, Mr. Pramod Mahajan, and Mr.Bapu Kaldate. He was chosen to be the secretary of the Struggle Committee set up in the jail under the leadership of Dhariaji. Immediately after the Emergency was revoked, he became part of the movement launched by the newly formed Janata Party that challenged the might of the Congress monolith in Maharashtra, for the first time after Independence. He was the joint secretary of the party's state unit that took on the Congress. The Congress (I) was bruised in the Lok Sabha elections in 1977 that brought in the Janata Party government at the Centre. The Congress suffered later in the poll for the Maharashtra State assembly in 1978.
Unsuccessful Contest:
The party asked Munde to contest from Renapur constituency in Beed district, but he lost the election by a margin of only 1100 votes. His opponents could not find a single good issue for the campaign against him. They, therefore, launched a whisper campaign among the tradition-bound village people spreading the word that Munde had an affair with a girl not belonging to his community. Munde had the courage to publicly announce in the election meetings that he indeed was in love with this girl and would marry her after the poll. This girl was Pradnya Mahajan, Pramod Mahajanji's younger sister and He got married as announced.
First Election Victories:
His first electoral success was in 1978 when the party asked him to contest the Zilla Parishad election in his hometown Beed district. He trounced his opponent with a margin that was the highest in the state. The stint with the Zilla Parishad was brief, but it prepared him for larger political battles later in his life. Two years later, in 1980, He contested and won the Renapur State Assembly seat.
Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha:
The Janata Party by this time had split and the Bharatiya Janata Party founded by the leaders the erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh had come into existence. He was made President of the Maharashtra unit of the BJP's youth wing, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha. He took up the cause of the youth in the state and organized a movement for the demands of the unemployed.
Youngest State President of a Political Party:
As the secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra in 1982, He began organizing the Bharatiya Janata Party work in every district of the state. Two years later, He was promoted to the General Secretary of the state unit. He had the honor to be the youngest state president of any political party in the country, when the Bharatiya Janata Party asked him to lead its Maharashtra unit in 1986. He was honored to be handpicked by Shri. Uttamrao Patil who was his predecessor in the Bharatiya Janata Party and earlier Bharatiya Jana Sangh for a 30-year stretch. He devoted his time and energy to take up the cause of farmers and drought-affected villagers in the state. He spearheaded mammoth rallies in Mumbai and Nagpur to press the demand for loan waivers for the farmers. He raised the voice for Adivasis, Dalits and women as fanned out to all the 30 districts in the state in a 30-day vigorous campaign.
BJP State President Once Again:
He was re-elected president of the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1988. He mobilized public opinion to rename the Marathwada University after Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. He took out regional yatras, from Tulajapur to Ghrishneshwar, Ramtek to Mumbai, and Uran to Bandra to focus the attention of the governments to people's issues in these regions. He thus visited each and every tehsil of the state during the four years and could establish rapport with the people.
BJP Leader in State Assembly:
When he was elected to the State Assembly once again in 1990, the Bharatiya Janata Party asked him to lead the 42-member group of the BJP. A year later, on December 12, 1992, he was elected the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly. He used all the democratic means, including no confidence motion, to raise people's issues in the house and took the Congress (I) government to task.
Fight against Criminalization of Politics:
One of the highlights of his achievements during these days was the attention Munde drew to the criminalization of politics. He raised the issue of nexus between politicians and criminalization not only at the state level, but even at the national forum. The BJP session in Bangalore adopted a resolution to oppose criminalization of politics. Later the joint session of Parliament in 1997, convened in connection with the Golden Jubilee of India's Independence, witnessed leaders of all parties agreeing to deny election tickets to criminals.
Two Pronged Strategy:
The BJP in Maharashtra adopted a two-pronged strategy to expose the corrupt and inefficient government of the Congress (I); use parliamentary means in both the legislative houses and take to streets to create awareness among the common people. The 71-day yatra from Shivneri in Pune district to Shiv Teertha in Mumbai, covering all the 300 tehsils in the state was received by the masses with overwhelming response everywhere. By this time, He was confident that the Congress (I) would be dethroned in Maharashtra even when critics ridiculed his prediction in this respect. He was among the BJP leaders who drew out a strategy to form an alliance with the Shiv Sena to take on the Congress (I) in the 1995 elections to the State Assembly. The strategy worked and the Congress (I) was humbled in the state to usher in the first real non-Congress (I) government in the state.
Congress Humbled:
He succeeded in exploding the myth that Mr.Sharad Pawar, his cooperatives sugar lobby and the Congress (I) were invincible in Maharashtra. The BJP (65) and Shiv Sena (73) won 148 seats in the 288 member-state assembly and unfurled the Saffron flag atop Mantralaya. They won the confidence of about two dozen Independent MLAs who had left the Congress (I) on the eve of the election. They offered their whole-hearted support to the Shivshahi in the state. ( Party position in State Assembly: Bharatiya Janata Party 65, Shiv Sena 73, Congress(I) 80, Communist Party of India 2, Independents 45, Janata Dal 11, Nagvidarbha Andolan 1, Peasants and Workers' Party 6. Samajwadi Janata Party 3, Maharashtrawadi Vikas Party 3, Others 1).

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